Florida has many DUI laws that can be confusing. If you are stopped by a police officer who asks if you’ve been drinking, the decisions you make can affect what happens next.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious charge that can impact your life in many ways if you are convicted. That’s why it’s important to know your rights and your legal options.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test, including walk and turn, one leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). You can refuse to take part in these exercises. While your refusal can be used against you in court, there are no penalties for your refusal.
However, the consequences are different - and often more serious - when it comes to refusing to take a breathalyzer test in Florida. Below, you can learn more.
Consequences of refusing a breath test
An officer may also ask you to take a test to measure your blood alcohol level. Under Florida’s implied consent law, drivers suspected of DUI are expected to take a breath, blood or urine test. Therefore, the police officer who stopped you will likely ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
Can you refuse to take the test? Yes, but there can be consequences for that decision. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If you refused to take a breathalyzer test, you must show proof of enrollment in DUI school. You can then apply for an administrative hearing to be considered for a hardship reinstatement of your driver's license.
- You are not eligible for a hardship reinstatement if you refuse to take breathalyzer test two or more times.
- A refusal to take a breathalyzer test is admissible as evidence in court proceedings.
- A second or subsequent refusal can be considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
- First refusal of a test can result in a suspension of your driver's license for one year.
- A second or subsequent refusal can result in a suspension of 18 months.
- First refusal of a test can result in the suspension of a commercial driver's license (CDL) for one year.
- A second or subsequent refusal can result in permanent disqualification for a CDL. No hardship reinstatement will be considered for a CDL.
Talk to an experienced DUI attorney
If you do take a breathalyzer test and your BAC is above the legal limit, you will be charged with DUI. Your test results will be used as evidence against you, but an experienced drunk driving lawyer can challenge those results.
Depending on your situation, an attorney may argue that the officer administered the test incorrectly or did not use the device properly. The breathalyzer equipment may have been defective or improperly maintained. Breathalyzer tests can also register false positives based on diet, diabetes or burping shortly before the test.
That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. DUI attorney Mark Sieron of Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. has been fighting for the rights of people charged with drunk driving in Florida for more than three decades. He knows what’s at stake and will fight to get the best possible outcome in your case.
If you are facing DUI charges in Clay County or anywhere in Northeast Florida, don’t delay. Contact us to schedule a free case consultation.