Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Can you refuse a breathalyzer test in Florida?

If a police officer requests a breathalyzer test, can you refuse? What are the consequences?

What is a breathalyzer test?

The breathalyzer test determines your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). A police officer may pull you over for speeding and still ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This happens for a variety of reasons. The officer might act on suspicion or take precautions. Even if the request seems unjust or unfair, you should consider the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test.

Floridas implied consent law

Florida recognizes the dangers of being intoxicated behind the wheel. While some states are more tolerant about reusing a breathalyzer test on the spot, Florida is not. The penalties for drinking and driving in the state are extremely harsh. An officer can arrest you.

Florida's implied consent law deems a breathalyzer test as mandatory. So, if you refuse, your license is suspended. Several penalties could follow, including misdemeanor charges and license suspension for a one year. Jail time depends on if it’s a first, second or third offense and the level of intoxication.

What if it was an unlawful arrest?

In 2011, the Florida Supreme Court added a provision to the implied consent law. If the DUI arrest – due to a refusal of the breathalyzer test - was unlawful, you driver’s license cannot be suspended.

What is an unlawful arrest, then?

For example, a police officer stopped you without a probable cause. If they are unable to supply solid evidence for their suspicion, it’s considered unreasonable. Therefore, you have a right to your driving privileges.

What is the worst-case scenario?

What is worse: a DUI penalty or the penalty for refusing a breath test? A refusal to blow can result in milder consequences compared to a DUI conviction. A DUI conviction holds penalties such as fines, jail time and interlock devices installed in your car. But this is a worst-case scenario. There’s still a chance you face a lesser sentence if you cooperate with the officer and the state laws. Another important thing to consider is the Florida diversion program. Refusing a breathalyzer test makes you ineligible for this milder form of punishment.

Regardless of the situation, you can fight your charges for a variety of reasons. Don’t shy away from challenging a DUI conviction.

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