Florida operates under an implied consent law when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI). Essentially, that means anyone who Florida law enforcement officials believe has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impliedly consents to taking a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining their blood alcohol content (BAC) or for the presence of drugs.
Fort Lauderdale police may ask someone they believe has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to take more than one test which cannot be refused without penalty. The bottom line is that Ft. Lauderdale DUI test refusals can result in fines and the suspension of one’s license and result in a misdemeanor charge. Contact a knowledgeable DUI lawyer that can answer any questions you may have about how refusing DUI testing can impact your case.
What Happens If I Refuse a DUI Test in Fort Lauderdale?
Refusing to take a DUI test in Florida can result in different penalties depending upon whether the refusal was a first, second, or third offense. Ft. Lauderdale DUI test refusals for a first offense generally result in a one-year license suspension and possible fines.
Second and third refusal offenses generally result in 18-month license suspension and possible jail or prison time and fines. However, the facts and circumstances surrounding the refusal can affect those penalties.
Conversely, Florida drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but have not been given the option to take a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine for the purpose of determining their blood alcohol content (BAC) or for drugs can specifically ask for one. Florida police officers must oblige when asked.
Consequences of Refusing a DUI Test
Although refusing to participate in a Ft. Lauderdale DUI test can result in fines and license suspension, the ultimate question becomes whether someone should refuse to take the mandatory DUI test. While the true answer to that question likely depends on the facts and circumstances of the specific situation, refusing to take a blood, breath, or urine test when arrested for a Florida DUI depends on the facts and circumstances of the DUI case and the presence of any prior offenses. As a general rule, it usually best not to submit to testing requested by a Fort Lauderdale police officer.
The administrative suspension from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will increase from six months to twelve months but the government and prosecution will be left without any scientific evidence in their effort to prove a DUI allegation and it may limit their chances of obtaining a conviction for DUI in Fort Lauderdale. The thought is that a driver’s license suspension is fixed in time while a DUI conviction is forever.
Potential Benefits of Refusing a DUI
An individual who chooses to refuse the breath test, the giving of a urine sample or a blood test is increasing the period of their driver’s license suspension but may be significantly increasing their chances of beating their DUI charge or increase the possibility of receiving a reduced charge of reckless driving.
Florida imposes fewer consequences on those who refuse a DUI test than in other states, although refusing to take the test more than once can result in possible prison time. When deciding whether to submit to a drunk driving test, it is important to understand that refusing the test is not a guarantee that someone will not be charged with a DUI offense. In fact, anyone can be found guilty of a Florida DUI even though the state is without evidence proving that their blood alcohol content (BAC) levels were over Florida’s threshold of .08 percent.
Alternative Theory of Prosecution
The law in Florida allows the government an alternative theory of prosecution by proof that an individual was under the influence of alcohol, chemical or controlled substance to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired. This is usually accomplished by the prosecution offering opinion testimony from a Fort Lauderdale police after making a physical observation of an individual and evaluating the performance of any field sobriety exercises.
Keep in mind however that Fort Lauderdale prosecutors will use DUI test refusals against alleged violators by arguing that they refused the test because they knew they would fail. This can be especially dangerous when other circumstances are present such as questionable field sobriety test results.
Ft. Lauderdale DUI Convictions
Before deciding if a Ft. Lauderdale DUI test refusal makes sense, it is important to understand Florida law on drunk driving convictions. According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Florida penalties for first DUI convictions consist of:
- Fines of $500 plus applicable court costs
- Community service – 50 hours
- Probation of up to one year
- Imprisonment of up to six months (this increases to nine months if a minor was in the vehicle)
- License revocation for a minimum of 180 days
- DUI school for up to 12 hours plus possible counseling
- Vehicle Immobilization (impoundment) of at least 10 ten days
- Subsequent offenses generally carry harsher penalties
Speaking with a DUI Lawyer
Ft. Lauderdale DUI test refusals can have serious consequences, but so can Florida DUI convictions. Anyone facing Florida DUI charges who has refused a DUI test should seek the counsel of an experienced Florida DUI lawyer. A qualified attorney can protect your rights, especially your right to refuse testing, and help you deal with the legal consequences of doing so. Contact a Ft. Lauderdale driving while intoxicated lawyer today, and know that you are in good hands.