Can You Be Punished for Refusing a DUI Test?Published: Jul 01, 2016 by Erika Valcarcel
Being charged with a DUI can be scary. You may be unsure of the legal process and how it will affect your life and reputation. If you were arrested or charged with an alcohol-related crime, Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. can help. Florida DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel has more than 13 years of legal experience. Call her today at (941) 363-7900.
Driving under the influence (DUI) carries serious penalties under Florida laws. Chemical testing by way of a breathalyzer, blood, or urine tests may be used to prove that you were intoxicated while driving. Such tests seek to establish whether your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit of .08 percent. Because DUI testing can be used to substantiate a charge in court, the right to refuse testing is controversial.
What is the Law in Florida for Refusing a DUI test?
In Florida, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer DUI test after lawful arrest without penalty. Your operation of a motor vehicle constitutes implied consent to a breath test. However, the DUI test is not required until after you are lawfully arrested for DUI. Thus, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to arrest you prior to the test. The test may substantiate the suspicion and be used as evidence in court.
A recent Supreme Court decision makes it unconstitutional for Florida to criminalize warrantless blood tests. If you refuse a blood test without a warrant, you may not be charged with an additional crime. However, such refusal can be used as evidence in court.
You may also be charged with a DUI if you weren’t driving, but had actual, physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated. The vehicle does not have to be in motion. If you were asleep behind the wheel in a parking lot, you may still be charged with a DUI.
Penalties for Refusing a DUI Test in Florida
If you refuse to take a DUI test, there will be no chemical evidence that you were intoxicated. However, there are severe penalties for refusing such tests after you were lawfully arrested for DUI. Despite this, some drivers prefer the charge of refusal to take a chemical test and the penalties it imposes to that of a DUI and related penalties.
- First Offense – 6 to 9 months incarceration, $500 to $2,000 fine, license suspension of up to 1 year, and installation of interlock ignition device (IID)
- Second Offense – 9 months to 1 year incarceration, $1,000 to $4,000 fine, license suspension of up to 5 years, and installation of IID
- Third and Subsequent Offenses – up to 1 year incarceration, $2,000 to $5,000 fine, license suspension of up to 10 years, and installation of IID
Refusal to Take DUI Test Penalties
- First Offense – license suspension of up to 1 year
- Second and Subsequent Offenses – license suspension of up to 18 months
In addition, your refusal to submit to a DUI test will likely be used in court. The prosecutor may suggest that your refusal is evidence that you were intoxicated. Thus, a refusal does not guarantee you will not be convicted of a DUI. The officer who pulled you over will testify and have other evidence that he used as suspicion to arrest you.
Should the Law Change?
Many argue that the implied consent law and related penalties associated with the refusal to take a DUI test are unconstitutional. The issue is to be considered by the Supreme Court of Florida later this year. The case they will be hearing originates from a driver’s refusal to submit to DUI testing in 2013. The constitutional challenge is drawing interest from legal and law enforcement groups, and the court has invited arguments from groups who are not parties to the suit.
How a Florida DUI Attorney Can Help
While the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of these laws, the consequences remain the same. If you were arrested for or charged with a DUI, Sarasota criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel can help you navigate the complicated legal issues involved. She will aggressively fight for your rights, and work to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900.