What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer or Blood Test to Determine My Blood Alcohol Content?

Many motorists in Orlando and Central Florida believe that submitting to a breath test after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) will only add fuel to the fire - especially if they have been drinking. Why give police the ammunition they need to arrest you? If you do refuse a Breathalyzer or blood test to determine your BAC or blood alcohol content, what will happen?

The fact is there are advantages and disadvantages in refusing a breath test when you're pulled over for DUI. Many DUI defense lawyers in Orlando recommend that anyone who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol refuse a Breathalyzer or blood test, however doing so could actually result in your losing your driving privilege. On the other hand, submitting to a breath or blood test could potentially provide prosecutors with the crucial evidence necessary to file criminal charges.

Implied Consent Law in Florida

In Florida, as in most other states, there is what is known as an "implied consent law." What this means is that when you accepted the privilege to drive in the state of Florida, you gave consent at that time to submit to breath, blood, urine, or field sobriety tests if you were ever to be pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.

Exception to Implied Consent Law in Florida Supreme Court

There is an exception to the implied consent law as ruled by the Florida Supreme Court in 2011. When an arrest is made without probable cause or a person is pulled over by police without reasonable suspicion, refusing a Breathalyzer test cannot result in your driving privilege being denied.

So, if there was reasonable suspicion to pull you over and you refuse to take a breath or blood test, what will happen? If it is the first time you have refused a Breathalyzer or blood test, your driver's license may be suspended for one year. Additionally, if you have refused a breath test in the past that resulted in license suspension, the officer must advise you of that fact and that refusing a second time could result in not only suspension of your driver's license, but misdemeanor charges as well.

What Test Should You Submit?

Should you submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test? The question is one that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. In the majority of cases it will not help your situation to refuse a breath or blood test. However, if you do submit to these tests and your blood alcohol content is found to be above the legal limit of .08 percent, you could face penalties for a DUI conviction that include potential jail time, fines, a criminal record, and more. One more thing to consider before you refuse a breath test is that refusal disqualifies you for a diversion program, a possible option for those who are arrested for a first DUI offense and who meet certain criteria.

Pre-trial diversion programs are designed so that some first-time offenders can attend a DUI school, perform community service, and have DUI charges dropped upon successful completion of the program rather than face jail time, a criminal record, and other sanctions.

Perhaps you will refuse a breath or blood test, or submit to testing. Regardless of which route you choose, it is imperative to work with an Orlando DUI lawyer when facing charges as having an experienced attorney to provide legal guidance and representation can greatly impact the outcome.

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