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Can you refuse a breath test in Florida?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When pulled over on suspicion of DUI (driving under the influence) in Florida, you may wonder whether you have the right to refuse a breath test. It is crucial to understand how this choice can affect you and the outcome of your case.

What is implied consent?

Florida law states that holding a Florida driver’s license and operating a vehicle on Florida roadways implies your consent to testing if an officer suspects that you were driving while drunk. This includes breath, blood and urine tests. As a result of this “implied consent” law, you can refuse a test, but that refusal can come with penalties.

What if you refuse the breath test?

While you legally have the right to refuse a breath test, it is important to consider the consequences. Automatic license suspension and the potential for enhanced criminal charges make refusal a risky choice. The penalties you face for refusing a breath test include:

  • First refusal: If it is your first time refusing a breath test, it results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for one year. This administrative penalty is separate from any criminal charges you might face related to DUI.
  • Subsequent refusals: Refusing the test a second or subsequent time leads to an 18-month suspension of your driver’s license. It can also result in the State Attorney’s Office charging an additional and separate First-degree misdemeanor for the subsequent (second or more) refusal.

In addition, your refusal could become an obstacle in court. The prosecution may argue that you knew you would fail the test and that is why you refused. This can make it more difficult to defend yourself against the drunk driving charge.

If you wonder whether you should refuse a test or wonder how your refusal could impact you, you may want to consult with a DUI attorney. They can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case.

If the authorities ask you to take a breath test, it is essential to weigh the consequences of refusal against the potential outcomes of complying. Understanding DUI laws in Florida can help you protect your rights and navigate the legal system effectively.