What Happens If I Refuse an Alcohol Test?

While DUI law is fairly straightforward, there are a few important statutes within DUI law to be aware of. In particular, Florida DUI law has implied consent laws in place that generally require drivers to submit to alcohol tests, and refusal could lead to penalties in addition to the DUI penalties. Keep reading today’s blog post to learn more about the specific terms of Florida’s implied consent laws and the consequential sentencing for refusal.

Florida’s Implied Consent Laws

Breath, urine, or blood tests help to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in a driver’s system, measured by the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to prove a DUI in court. Florida implements implied consent laws that presume any person who holds a Florida driver’s license or operates a vehicle within the state has consented to an alcohol test if they have been lawfully arrested for a DUI (an officer had probable cause to believe that the driver was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs).

There are a few different types of alcohol tests an officer may administer:

  • Breathalyzers – infrared light breath test
  • Urine tests – if an officer suspects a driver is under the influence of an intoxicating chemical or controlled substance
  • Blood tests – tests the concentration of alcohol and the presence of controlled substances.

Note that a driver is not required to take a blood test unless a breath or urine test is impractical or impossible in the circumstances, such as when the driver is hospitalized or unconscious.

Penalties Upon Test Refusal

A lawfully arrested driver under suspicion of DUI can face numerous penalties for refusing an alcohol test. Primarily, unlawful refusal of a chemical test will result in a 1-year license suspension upon a first offense and an 18-month suspension upon second or subsequent offenses. It is possible to contest a license suspension, but the suspended driver must submit a written request for formal review within 10 days of receiving the suspension. Refusal may also lead to $1,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail.

In some cases, drivers with suspended licenses may be eligible for temporary restricted licenses, except for those with third-time offenses. Eligible individuals are those who complete a DUI substance abuse education course and evaluation, and they may also be required to provide letters of recommendation for reinstatement of limited driving privileges. A restricted license, after all, allows the licensee to drive for certain essential purposes, such as employment or educational reasons, and it may require the driver to use an ignition interlock device (IID).

Drivers commonly but mistakenly believe that refusing a test will make it harder to prove they were driving under the influence. However, the reality is that such a refusal for testing could actually be used against the driver in a criminal case; prosecutors may often argue that the refusal indicates the driver is trying to hide their unlawful intoxication level.

Call an Experienced Attorney for Legal Representation

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it is most advisable to simply submit to an alcohol test along Florida’s implied consent laws. After all, the risk of a prosecutor claiming you are hiding your impairment is not in your best interests. Do note that you should not be asked for a blood test if it is reasonable to perform a breathalyzer or urine test. When you are facing a DUI, consult an experienced attorney for legal representation. A good lawyer can streamline the legal process and argue for mitigated penalties, including helping you seek eligibility for obtaining a restricted license.

Don’t let a DUI be your end-all-be-all. Contact Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. for legal support today.