Many individuals might not know that if they are arrested for a driving under the influence offense (DUI) that they have the right to refuse a blood alcohol test. However, Florida is a complied consent state. Under Florida Statute § 316.1932 (1), any person who operates a motor vehicle in Florida has given their implied consent to chemical testing of their blood, breath or urine at the request of a law enforcement officer after a lawful stop for arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
When an individual is pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving they might be asked to take a breath alcohol test or as it is commonly referred, a breathalyzer. If the breath test registers under 0.08, the officer may request a chemical urine or blood test to determine if there are drugs in the drivers system. A chemical BAC test usually consists of a blood or urine test administered by a medical professional.
The Basics of Refusal to Submit to BAC Testing in Florida
A person’s refusal to do something usually consists of them saying “no”. However, in the state of Florida, there are other ways that can be considered as refusal called constructive refusal. Constructive refusal may be interpreted as:
· The driver being unable to provide two sufficient samples of their breath within the statutory time period following the arrest
· If the driver does not specifically state yes or no to taking a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine
· If the driver becomes confrontational
· If the driver provides breath samples that are not within.02 of each other and then refuses to take a third test or
· If the driver blows a breath test once but does not blow a second or subsequent time when requested
In Florida, an arresting officer must inform the driver of the Implied Consent Warnings, which advise the driver of the consequences as a result of refusing to submit to testing.
Penalties for Refusal in Florida
Though an individual can refuse testing, they can also face stiff penalties as a result of refusal to submit to chemical BAC testing. These penalties can include the suspension of their driver’s license and driving privileges for up to one year. According to Florida Statute § 316.1939, if the driver has previously refused to submit to chemical testing and their driver’s license was already suspended, they can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.
If the driver of a commercial vehicle is charge with refusing to submit to chemical testing while driving a commercial vehicle, they may have their commercial driver’s license suspended for up to one year. During their suspension they are not allowed to apply for a hardship license, which would allow them to drive for work purposes.
What does this mean for a criminal case?
A criminal case for a DUI offense in Orlando relies heavily on the results of chemical BAC testing to prove that a driver was in fact under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of arrest. If there is no chemical testing as the result of refusal, there will be no test results. This will force the prosecution to use the evidence of the refusal to chemical testing and field sobriety testing as evidence to prove that a driver was definitely intoxicated at the time of arrest, which can be difficult.