According to a report by WFTV Eyewitness News, four out of 10 Florida drivers stopped by police for suspected drunk driving refuse breathalyzer tests. However, what these Florida motorists may not know is that simply refusing a breathalyzer can be a serious offense in Florida.
Breathalyzer Refusal Rates in Florida
Given the high rates of breath test refusal in Florida, some have called for a change in Florida law. For example in other states, if a motorist refuses to take a breath test then police will simply take their blood and screen it for alcohol.
The idea is that people will be more likely to take a breathalyzer if the alternative is a needle. However, when various Florida counties implemented these intrusive blood draws, Florida courts overturned the DUI convictions – leading some to ask for a change in the law to allow blood tests.
Florida’s Implied Consent Law
Florida’s current law regarding breath tests – commonly known as Florida’s Implied Consent Law – states that any motorist who simply accepts the “privilege…of operating a motor vehicle within this state is…deemed to have given his or her consent to submit to…[a] test of his or her breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood or breath.”
Simply put: If you choose to drive, you have already consented to a breathalyzer, and if you refuse we can punish you.
The punishments can be quite severe as well – with a first refusal punishable by a suspension of a driver’s license and a second refusal being considered a first-degree misdemeanor and a criminal offense.
However, if you have refused a breath test do not despair as you still have some options. For example, if you refuse to provide a breath sample, you are entitled to a DMV hearing in which you can challenge the license suspension. In any case, it is always a good idea to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if ever charged with a DUI or refusal.
Source: WFTV News, “DUI suspects refusing breathalyzers frustrating to prosecutors,” June 29, 2012