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Florida Attorney Discusses Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer

Florida criminal defense attorneyRefusing to take a breathalyzer test can be a crime in Florida. Police officers have the power to immediately suspend your license to drive. No questions asked. 

But there are ways to get it back, even if you are charged with driving under the influence. You need to move quickly though – you only have 10 days to take action or you forfeit your right to a temporary driver’s license. 

That’s why your first call should be to an experienced attorney with a strong record of success in contesting the loss of a driver’s license through an administrative hearing. 

Consequences of a refusal

Breathalyzer tests are not mandatory in Florida – you can refuse. But you will face consequences for doing so. A first-time refusal means your license will be suspended for 12 months, with a 90-day mandatory waiting period for a hardship license. 

A second-time or subsequent refusal means your license will be suspended for 18 months, and you cannot get a hardship license at all. These consequences are serious but can get even worse. 

Additional consequences

You will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if you refused a breathalyzer before and then subsequently refused again. In a criminal case, the prosecutor can tell the jury or judge that you refused the breathalyzer. That’s seen as strong evidence of guilt. 

It can get complicated, and the numbers 10 and 90 become key. You have only 10 days to seek a hardship license but that’s only if you refused a breathalyzer one time ever. You can then try to get your license back, but only for specific purposes.  

Even if you win it back, there’s a mandatory 90-day waiting period. Confused? That’s why you need an attorney who can break down the process. 

There are two types of licenses you can seek – only allowed after a first-time refusal: 

  • Business purpose hardship – This driver’s license will allow you to drive for certain purposes such as work, church, medical appointments and education. 
  • Employment purpose hardship – This driver’s license will allow you to drive only for work purposes. 

But even if you are successful in getting a hardship license, you won’t get it right away. You must face the “No Mercy” period. 

No mercy period

For 90 days after your license is suspended, you cannot have it back, even if you win your hearing. You must wait out the 90 days for your driving privileges to be restored. That’s because the ability to drive and obtain a license is considered a privilege by the state  

Florida and not a right of any citizen.  

When you get your license, you agree to follow the rules of the road and the laws of Florida. That includes maintaining your license and insurance and performing field sobriety tests, submitting to urine or blood tests and taking a breathalyzer test. But you also have legal rights, and an experienced attorney can help to defend them. If you have any further questions, contact us today to discuss your legal matter. 

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