Getting arrested for driving under the influence is serious business. It exposes you to civil penalties, higher insurance rates, criminal charges, incarceration, and possible revocation of your driver’s license. So if you get pulled over and you’ve been drinking, you may be tempted to refuse to take a breathalyzer or any form of sobriety test. Before you do so, be aware of what Florida law requires of all motorists and how it applies to DUI charges.
Florida’s Implied Consent Law
Florida Statute 316.1932 establishes that any person who accepts the privilege to drive within the State is deemed to have given their consent to submit to sobriety tests — including, but not limited to, a test of their breath to determine their blood alcohol level. This applies whenever a person commits an offense while driving or being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
The sobriety test must be incidental to a lawful arrest and administered at the request of a law enforcement officer who has reasonable cause to believe the driver was driving under the influence. The results from this test may be used later in court.
What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer?
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you’ve previously had your driving privileges suspended due to your refusal to use a breathalyzer, your driver’s license will be suspended for 18 months, and you could face misdemeanor charges.
You may also be required to undergo a urine test. If this is the case, such a test has to be administered at a detention facility or any other facility where the test can be done in a reasonable manner and where you can maintain your privacy. If you refuse this test, you will also lose your driving privileges for one year. If it’s the second time you’re refusing — just with a breathalyzer — the driver’s license suspension will be increased to 18 months and you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
How a Lawyer Can Help
An experienced DUI attorney can help you reduce the impact of a DUI conviction on your life. For example, if you were not feeling impaired and it had been a while since you consumed alcohol prior to driving, an attorney could question the accuracy of the device used to measure your blood alcohol level. A lawyer would also be able to interrogate the law enforcement officer who pulled you over, as well as any witnesses to determine if there are any inconsistencies or cause for concern. If you refused a breathalyzer at the time of the arrest, your lawyer would look at the accuracy of subsequent urine or blood tests.
By the same token, if you were impaired to drive, an attorney may help you get your charges reduced — such as to a reckless driving charge. If your driver’s license is suspended, a lawyer could help you obtain a permit to drive to go to and from work and/or school. If your charges get reduced to reckless driving, the fines could range between $25 and $1,000, and imprisonment could be between three to six months. Every case is different, and the only way to determine whether your charges could be diminished is to consult with an experienced DUI attorney.
Get Legal Help Following Your Tampa Bay DUI Arrest
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in the Tampa Bay Area, call Clark Law, without delay. We have offices in Bradenton, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Getting an early start on your case is critical to ensuring the best possible outcome. A simple mistake of having a little too much to drink before getting behind the wheel doesn’t have to ruin your life or your livelihood if your rights are properly protected. Contact us today at (855) 680-4911 for your free consultation.