When you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test. The officer may be convincing, and you might be worried about the consequences of refusing the test.
Knowing your rights in this situation can help you determine how best to proceed. Continue reading for more information, then call (321) 332-6864 to get in touch with one of our Expert DUI attorneys.
A breathalyzer is a device used to measure your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If you agree to a breathalyzer test, you’ll be asked to blow into the machine, and the police will use the results to determine if you’re over the legal limit.
Under Florida law, all licensed drivers give “implied consent” to chemical testing such as breathalyzers when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you must comply. You have the ability to refuse a breathalyzer test, but doing so carries significant consequences.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. Any subsequent refusals will result in an 18-month license suspension and the possibility of criminal penalties, including jail time.
If you know you’re sober — it’s not worth the risk of refusing a breathalyzer just to avoid the hassle. However, if you believe there’s a chance you may be over the legal limit, you need to weigh your options carefully.
The results of a breathalyzer test can be used to convict you in court, so some drivers believe that refusing can help them avoid a conviction. However, even if you refuse the breath test, you can still be arrested, charged, and even convicted of DUI without a breathalyzer reading.
If you refuse the breathalyzer, the prosecutor will rely on evidence of your driving pattern, results of any field sobriety tests conducted, your behavior, and your admissions made when you were stopped and arrested to attempt to prove to a jury that you were impaired. Anything from erratic driving to a failed field sobriety test can be used to build a case against you.
In many cases refusing a breath test keeps the state from having an additional piece of evidence against you. It’s difficult to accurately assess one’s own outward signs of intoxication, so even if you think you appear sober, the police may see things differently.
It’s important to note that the implied consent law only applies when the officer stops you with “reasonable suspicion” and arrests you with “probable cause.” This means that if the officer has no legal basis to pull you over or arrest you, the breath test you take may not be admissible as evidence against you.
They might suspend your driver’s license anyway if you refuse. Still, you may be able to challenge the suspension in an administrative hearing if you can show that the stop or arrest was not legally justified.
This aspect of the law could possibly protect you whether you agree to take the breath test and it shows that you’re over the limit or refuse. If you can prove that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to pull you over or probable cause to arrest you, the results of the breathalyzer test or your refusal might not be admissible in court.