If you’ve found this blog post, chances are you’re worried about a current DUI arrest or the possibility that you may face some sort of repercussions due to drinking and driving. The good news is that you’re here. The best first steps are seeking information regarding DUIs in Florida and contacting a DUI Defense attorney. So take a deep breath - whether you’re currently in the middle of a stressful situation or simply being proactive, we are here to help. As a seasoned Florida DUI defense attorney who’s been practicing for over 20 years, I’ve heard it all.
So you’re wondering - can you say “no thanks” to a sobriety test in Florida? Technically, yes you can refuse to take a sobriety test. But we don’t recommend doing so.
Field sobriety tests in Florida typically include a breathalyzer and/or exercises such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand. While it may seem like a good idea to refuse to take a sobriety test, this can actually be used against you later in court. Not only that, but refusal of a field sobriety test can result in immediate suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year.
What Does Implied Consent in Florida Mean?
Florida’s Implied Consent Law states that any person who operates a motor vehicle within the state implicitly agrees to submit to an approved chemical or physical test in order to determine his or her BAC (blood alcohol content) level. In other words, when you drive in Florida it is implied that you consent to undergo a sobriety test if suspected of driving under the influence. And the consequences if you refuse such a test can be severe, as we explained above.
What Is the Breath Test Law in Florida?
Florida’s Breath Test Law follows Florida’s Implied Consent. This means if you’re pulled over by an officer and suspected to be driving under the influence, you will likely be asked to take a breath test. This is most commonly a breathalyzer, which is used to measure, calculate, and record the breath alcohol level of a Florida driver suspected of a DUI. Remember - the legal BAC in Florida is 0.08%. And if you’re under the legal drinking age of 21, this legal limit drops down to 0.02% due to Florida’s zero-tolerance policy.
Can You Request a Blood Test Instead of a Breathalyzer in Florida?
According to Florida Law, there are certain conditions under which chemical or physical breath tests are to be administered in order to test for alcohol. You may think that asking for a Blood Test instead of a Breathalyzer is a good idea, but unfortunately, it is not up to you to decide which test is to be administered. While you do have a right to refuse a sobriety test altogether, you are not allowed to pick and choose. It is typically up to law enforcement to decide which tests are best based on the specifics of the situation. Blood tests are usually administered in situations such as after an accident if you’re taken to a hospital, or in other circumstances where it may be impractical or even impossible for you to take a breathalyzer.
What Happens if You Refuse to Take a Blood Alcohol Test in Florida?
Similarly to refusing a sobriety test in Florida, refusing to take a blood alcohol test falls under the same law. Refusing to submit a breath, urine, or blood test has serious legal consequences such as automatic suspension of your driver’s license. And if you’ve refused to take a sobriety or blood alcohol test in Florida previously, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor - meaning you may face up to 1 year in jail, 12 months probation, and a $1,000 fine.
Refusal of a sobriety test can also be used against you in court as evidence during a DUI criminal proceeding. Refusal can imply guilt, and that you were aware you were driving under the influence.If you are currently facing DUI charges in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, or the greater Palm Beach County in Florida, it is essential to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. They will be able to guide you on how to best leverage any developments if an officer’s reputation is compromised and ensure that your rights are protected in court so you receive a fair trial. Also, check out our free guide, "What You Must Know About Your DUI Case Before You Do Anything: Attacking DUI Myths That Will Hurt Your Case" for more information on how to navigate your DUI case.