Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer in Florida?

can you refuse a breathalyzer in Florida

Whether you’ve had one drink or several, it’s never a good idea to drink and drive. But, every day thousands of people find themselves in these very situations. Drinking a single, alcoholic beverage may not impair most people, but it’s entirely situational. So, when you become involved in a car accident, you may be asked to breathe into a breathalyzer. Can you refuse a breathalyzer in Florida? And, what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer?

What is a breathalyzer?

A breathalyzer is an electronic device used to measure someone’s breath alcohol content (BrAC). BrAC can be used to accurately measure an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC).

There is a direct correlation between your BrAC and blood alcohol concentration. Alcohol in your blood evaporates and is carried out of your lungs when you exhale. That’s why police officers are able to use breathalyzers to determine if you are impaired by alcohol.

Florida Law: DUI Refusal of Breath Test

Florida Statute 316.193 makes it illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC). To test your BAC, a breath, urine, or blood test may be conducted. A breathalyzer is typically done on-site of the incident — whether that’s an accident or a routine traffic stop — while a urine and blood test are typically conducted at the police station or hospital.

BAC of .05 or Less

If your blood or breath-alcohol level is .05 or less while you were operating a vehicle, then your normal faculties may not be considered to be impaired by alcohol. You would not receive a DUI unless the officer had other evidence that you were impaired by alcoholic beverages.

BAC of More Than .05 but Less Than .08

If you have a blood or breath-alcohol level in excess of .05, but it’s less than .08, then it could be argued that your normal functions are not impaired by alcoholic beverages. In some cases, you could still be given a DUI and taken to jail if other evidence suggests that you were impaired — such as swerving back and forth or being involved in an accident.

BAC of .08 or More

Having a blood or breath-alcohol level of .08 or more establishes that you were under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that your normal functions were impaired. In these situations, you will certainly receive a DUI and be taken to jail.

What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer in Florida?

If you’ve been pulled over or were involved in an accident, then a police officer may ask you to breathe into a breathalyzer if they suspect alcohol has affected your driving. You have the choice to refuse a breathalyzer, but this does not mean that you’ll be able to continue driving to your destination. It also doesn’t mean that you will be safe from a conviction for a DUI.

Under Florida’s implied consent law, anyone operating a motor vehicle must submit to a chemical test if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in your driver’s license being suspended immediately for an entire year. In the future, if you refuse to blow for a second or third time, your license will be suspended for 18 months, and you could face jail time.

Is it better to refuse a breathalyzer?

If you’ve been drinking — even if you don’t feel like you’ve been impaired — it is always better for you to take a breathalyzer. That’s because refusing won’t prevent you from getting a DUI, but complying could result in blowing less than .08 BAC. This would save you from getting your license suspended and you would be free to continue driving to your destination if no other evidence of impairment is determined. But, what if you haven’t been drinking at all?

If you were stopped without reasonable suspicion or if you were arrested without probable cause, then your refusal to blow cannot be used against you to deny your driving privileges. However, it is extremely difficult to determine, during the arrest, whether or not the police officer had probable cause against you.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been offered a breathalyzer test and refused, then an accredited lawyer can help you achieve the best outcome possible. A lawyer will obtain evidence during a discovery phase to paint a picture of what took place during detainment — including the events that took place leading up to that moment. They’ll work on your behalf to find first-hand witnesses or video surveillance to back up your recollection of the events that took place. And, they can bring in experts to determine if probable cause was applied and your refusal was reasonable.

If you refused a breathalyzer and your BAC came back above .08, then a lawyer can help you retain some of your driving rights. In some cases, you may be able to get a temporary license that allows you to drive to certain locations — such as work. However, every case is different. That’s why it’s important to involve a lawyer as early in your case as possible.

Call Clark Hartpence Law for a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been involved in a DUI and you don’t know how to move forward, let us help you. Our legal experts will ensure you have the best outcome possible. Call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.