In Florida, operating a motor vehicle is classed as a privilege granted to you by the government. When you accept this privilege, you also agree to the right of a law enforcement officer to administer a breath, urine, or blood test to determine whether you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In accordance with Florida Statutes 316.1939, Refusing to submit to a breath test is a criminal offense in Florida and is classed as a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. It also outlines that drivers have already given implied consent to be submitted to a breath test, and failing to abide by this will result in your license being immediately suspended.
Contact The Law Place Today
Here at The Law Place, we have a team of experienced Tampa DUI attorneys who are committed to helping you navigate your DUI refusal case. Our team of Florida DUI attorneys will guide you through every step of your legal battle and do the best they can to shield you from the penalties involved with a refusal to consent to a breath test.
Contact an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney today to learn more about our history with DUI cases and what we could do for you.
What Is A DUI?
A DUI is a commonly used acronym for the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence. The legal limit to drive in Florida is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. To put this into perspective, one glass of wine is five ounces, and one beer is equal to twelve ounces – therefore, it really does not take much alcohol to be considered over the limit.
Factors such as your weight, stress and hydration levels, alcohol tolerance, and whether you ate before drinking can all impact your BAC significantly. It is also very difficult to determine your exact BAC without a breathalyzer test, meaning if you have had a drink (even if you feel fine), it is best to avoid driving after drinking.
Because of the importance of BAC when determining if somebody has been driving whilst intoxicated, a DUI arrest will often involve a law enforcement officer requesting you to submit to a chemical test, most commonly a breathalyzer test.
This is a lawful test used to determine your blood alcohol level (BAL). It is important to remember that the state can use your BAC as evidence for impairment. However, they do not need to prove that you were behaving drunk at the time of arrest, simply that the presence of alcohol in your system had impaired your ability to safely drive.
A DUI conviction can result in several legal consequences, including community service, fines, driving license suspension, higher auto insurance premiums, and even jail time. Therefore, it can be understandable why 40% of individuals stopped for suspected DUIs choose to refuse a breath test, as they may believe this gets them out of the charges. However, refusing a breath test can present its own issues, especially if you fail to employ an experienced DUI lawyer following your refusal.
What Is Florida’s Implied Consent Law?
Florida motor law operates using a strict Implied Consent Law. It means that under Florida law, every individual driving within the State of Florida has impliedly provided his or her consent to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if an arresting officer stops them for a suspected DUI offense.
To highlight this law, every Florida driver’s license will have printed on it the statement, “Operation of a motor vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test required by law.” This means you must submit to a breath test if asked by the arresting officer.
If a breath test machine refusal occurred, then the officer on the scene is likely to read you the “implied consent warning.” Implied consent warnings sufficiently describe the legal consequences of refusing to take part in breath testing. If you continue to refuse to submit to a breath test, then the officer will have probable cause to make a lawful arrest and treat your case as an alleged refusal to complete breath testing. This can result in a range of legal consequences and could increase your chances of a DUI conviction.
What Criminal Penalties Are Involved With A Refusal To Take A Breath Test Following A DUI arrest?
If you refuse a breath test in Tampa, you could be making your DUI charge worse, as this comes with some serious penalties. That being said, you can refuse to submit a Standard Field Sobriety Test (three tests involving horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand), providing that you were not involved in an accident. Refusing these tests is not against the law, but there can still be repercussions, and the officer may choose to arrest you to carry out further tests.
We do not advise that you refuse to take any test, but if you do, here are the penalties you could incur:
First DUI Refusal
Your driver’s license will be suspended for a period not exceeding 12 months following your first refusal of a breathalyzer test. License suspension can cause an array of issues and is not to be taken lightly.
Second Or Subsequent Refusal
For a second refusal of a breath, blood, or urine test then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for a period not exceeding 18 months. You will also be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A DUI conviction of this type, as per Florida Statutes 316.1939, requires that the defendant has a prior license suspension because of a prior refusal to submit to breathalyzer tests.
Hardship Driver’s License
It is also useful to be aware of the possibility of seeking out a hardship license following your refusal to submit to a breath test. This is a type of driver’s license that can grant you temporary, albeit limited, driving privileges following the administrative suspension of your own license.
For your first alleged refusal of a chemical test, you are required to serve 90 days without your driver’s license/permit before you can apply for hardship reinstatement. If you have two or more refusals to submit to a chemical test, then you will not be eligible for hardship reinstatement.
In this case, it is increasingly important to apply for the 42-day permit, which will slightly reduce your 18-month indisputable suspension. DUI refusal cases can be tricky to understand by yourself, an experienced lawyer can help significantly when trying to understand your rights following a failure to submit to a breathalyzer test.
Why We Don’t Advise That You Refuse To Submit A Breath Test
Breath tests are not always accurate, and your attorney may be able to argue that your reading was a false result, but if you refuse to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test, your lawyer will be unable to present this as evidence in court for any other legal proceedings you have ongoing.
However, if you have already refused a breath test in Tampa, it is imperative that you contact a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. You will need to build a solid defense, and a lawyer from our law firm will help you every step of the way.
What Should You Do After Refusing To Submit To A Breath Test?
The first thing we advise you to do is to call a criminal defense lawyer. Facing these charges on your own could result in some serious penalties. A Florida DUI defense lawyer from The Law Place will help you navigate your charges and determine the best way to build a defense.
Following a DUI arrest or DUI refusal, you will have 10 days to apply for a formal review hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Failure to do this will result in you waiving your rights to dispute the charges brought against you. In this hearing, your attorney may be able to get your license reinstated, but only so you can drive for work, school, medical, or religious purposes.
This hearing is a very important part of your case. It is a chance for your Florida criminal defense attorney to cross-reference witnesses, such as the arresting officer. They will be able to determine whether the officer had probable cause to pull you over, whether his breath tester was in good working order, and whether the consequences for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test were properly explained to you.
If you are unsure of how to apply for this hearing, then speak to a DUI refusal attorney at The Law Place today! Book a free consultation today, and we can start fighting for your case.
So What Happens After I am Stopped For A Suspected DUI Offense?
It is a difficult question to answer without knowing all the facts. On the one hand, if you have refused to carry out a breath test, then the prosecuting lawyers will have very limited, relevant evidence to use against you when it comes to receiving a conviction.
In contrast, the prosecuting team could also spin your refusal to take part in a breath test as evidence of ‘consciousness of guilt’. This means that you, as the driver, chose not to supply a breath test sample to the law enforcement officer, as you were aware that there was a reasonable chance you could be found guilty of driving whilst intoxicated. Nevertheless, there are also several reasons why a person would refuse to blow into a breath test machine. For instance, some lawyers may argue that the machine was not calibrated properly and, therefore, it would not have accurately represented your true BAC.
To reach an answer, it could be helpful to consider the aforementioned penalties that follow failing to complete a breathalyzer test. For example, if this is your second or third time refusing a breath test, then you could lose your license for over a year. Following this, you could be charged with a misdemeanor which can involve jail time.
An attorney from The Law Place will be able to talk this idea through in more detail and in relation to your specific DUI refusal case. Our lawyers can offer a free initial case evaluation whereby any of your queries or concerns surrounding breath test refusals can be answered. Do not hesitate to get in touch today to learn more about your options.
How Much Will A Tampa DUI Attorney Cost Me?
The cost of a criminal defense attorney can vary massively, depending on the skill of the attorney. When it comes to defending yourself against a DUI refusal, you really get what you pay for. If you spend very little, you will get an inexperienced Tampa DUI lawyer who has not worked on many cases like yours. If you are willing to spend more, you will get an experienced DUI defense attorney, like those from The Law Place. We only have the best attorneys at our law firm, and they will fight for you every step of the way.
You must also take the details of the case and arrest into account when predicting the price of an attorney. Any complications during your arrest could result in your attorney costing much more. Here are some of the things that will drive the price up:
- If your arrest involved personal injury or death.
- If your arrest involved an accident or property damage.
- If you were in actual physical control of the motor vehicle.
- If this wasn’t your first DUI.
- The time between DUIs. If you are arrested for a DUI for the second time in 10 years, your penalties will be much worse.
- If the central breath testing unit used was fully functional at the time of the arrest.
- If you submitted to a physical test.
- If you attempted to assault the arresting officer or anyone else at the scene of your arrest.
- Your past convictions.
Any of these situations will make an attorney much more expensive as they have much more to defend you from. Here at The Law Place, we have your best interests at heart, and we will fight for you every step of the way. We strive for transparency in all of our costs, and a Florida DUI lawyer will answer all of your questions in your free consultation.
Tampa Refusal To Submit Breath Test Lawyer
Have you been arrested for a DUI in Tampa? Were you charged with the crime of refusal to submit to a breath test? Call our law firm today and book a free consultation with one of our dedicated Florida DUI attorneys.
We will explain everything to you and begin to form a solid defense against the penalties you are facing. Upon contacting The Law Place, a Florida DUI attorney will arrange a free consultation to discuss the details of your case, this will be honored through a confidential attorney-client relationship. We will get the ball rolling immediately and begin to schedule a formal review hearing to appeal your charges and potential administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
Our Florida DUI attorneys possess a combined experience of over 75 years in dealing with DUI refusal cases, so you can feel comfortable that you are in safe hands. Our attorneys work together on every case. This sets us apart from other Florida law firms and means you can be confident your case is in capable hands.
Call us to schedule your free consultation. Our phone lines are open 24/7.