Florida is one of many states to enforce what is referred to as the law of implied consent. This law means that whenever a driver gets behind the wheel, they have implicitly given their consent to a chemical test of their urine, blood, or breath if requested by a law enforcement officer who has stopped them under suspicion of DUI.
During a DUI stop, law enforcement officers should provide you with an implied consent warning, which generally informs a driver of the consequences for refusing to submit to a chemical test. These consequences can include:
- The most significant consequence of refusing a chemical test during a DUI stop is that drivers can face an automatic one year driver’s license suspension.
- If it is the second time a driver has refused a chemical test during a DUI stop, the license suspension can be increased to as much as 18 months.
Following a chemical test refusal, license suspensions – as well as any efforts to contest or appeal the suspension – will be handled as administrative proceedings through the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These administrative proceedings are separate from any criminal proceedings, and they concern only one’s driver’s license.
Aside from driver’s license consequences, chemical test refusals can also impact the criminal side of DUI cases. This is because chemical tests – commonly the results of breath or blood tests – provide prosecutors with evidence they can use to convict and penalize drivers.
For example, prosecutors can use evidence obtained by breathalyzers – say a driver’s .15 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) – to make their case that the driver was legally intoxicated when they were behind the wheel. This evidence can also be used to impose enhanced penalties – which can be the case when drivers blow high BAC numbers.
Just as there are ways to challenge and effectively defend against the results of breath or blood tests, there are also ways to create successful defense strategies when drivers refuse chemical tests. These cases can be difficult, and they will always vary depending on the unique facts and circumstances involved. In any event, it always becomes crucial to work with experienced DUI defense lawyers who can work with the situation at hand and pursue the best possible outcome.
Our Miami DUI lawyers at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. have decades of combined experience and experience as former prosecutors. If you have questions about chemical test refusals or any DUI charge in Miami or any of the surrounding areas of Florida, contact our firm for an initial case evaluation.