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Refusing DUI Testing in Florida Means Possible License Suspension

We all know that driving under the influence (DUI) is against the law, but many Floridians are unaware of the consequences of breaking the law. Florida DUI laws are nothing to take lightly, and one of the most severe consequences may be a long-term suspension of your driver's license.

In Florida, a DUI arrest may lead to two separate suspensions: (1) an administrative suspension through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (administrative suspension), and (2) a criminal suspension through the court (criminal suspension). This blog focuses on administrative suspensions.

Given the severity of a DUI, you might be inclined to refuse a DUI test if you are arrested by law enforcement. Refusing a breath, urine or blood test may be in your best interest, but it is important to know about Florida’s implied consent laws and the consequences that come with a refusal. Let’s take a look at Florida’s implied consent laws and the possible consequences of refusing a test if lawfully arrested.

A DUI Arrest Could Result in the Immediate Suspension of Your Driver's License

After being stopped by law enforcement, if the officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then you might be detained and asked to perform field sobriety exercises. If the officer determines that he has probable cause to arrest you for DUI, then you will be brought to the breath alcohol testing center. The officer will then ask you to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test to determine your breath alcohol content.

If you refuse to take the test, then your license will get suspended. Of course, if you take the breath test and fail, as many people do, then this could also result in your license being suspended.

Typically, your license will be suspended in Florida in two scenarios following your arrest. The first is where you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more. The second is where you refuse to provide a sample of your breath, urine, or blood to law enforcement.

Florida “Implied Consent” Law Requires You to Submit to DUI Testing If Lawfully Arrested

Under Florida’s Implied Consent Law, by obtaining a driver license, a driver who is lawfully arrested for DUI has given her consent to submit to a lawful test of her breath, urine, or blood in order to determine her BAC. A lawful arrest in this context means that law enforcement has probable cause to conduct a traffic stop, reasonable suspicion to detain you to investigate a DUI, and then probable cause to arrest you if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Generally, law enforcement chooses whether you have to take a breath test (commonly referred to as a breathalyzer test), a urine test, or a blood test. The type of test depends on whether the officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances. But before this test occurs, law enforcement must read you a warning which lets you know that they cannot physically force you to submit to testing absent a warrant and that you will face a license suspension if you refuse to take the test.

Although you are required to submit to this test, you could refuse to take it (known as a refusal). At times, refusing a DUI test may be in your best interest.

Applicable Administrative Suspension Periods for DUI in Florida

If You Are Age 21 or Older

  • Your BAC is .08 or higher: 180 days for a first offense or 1 year if you have a prior DUI
  • You refuse or fail to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test: 1 year (first refusal) or 18 months (second refusal)

You might face the minimum suspension period if this is your first offense. The maximum suspension period typically applies if you have been previously suspended for refusing or failing to take a breath or blood test or you have been previously convicted of DUI. Moreover, a second refusal constitutes a misdemeanor offense in addition to other penalties.

If You Are Under Age 21

  • Your BAC is .02 or higher: 180 days for a first offense or 1 year if you have a prior DUI
  • You refuse or fail to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test: 1 year (first refusal) or 18 months (second refusal)

Criminal Suspension Periods for DUI in Florida

As previously discussed, this blog focuses on administrative suspensions through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. However, if you are convicted of DUI in Florida, you will also face a criminal suspension of your driver's license. This suspension is in addition to the administrative suspension, and it starts on the date of your conviction, not the date of your arrest. The length of the suspension depends on the degree of the DUI conviction.

Law Offices of Greg Rosenfeld – Your West Palm Beach Florida DUI Lawyers

Law Offices of Greg Rosenfeld consists of highly respected and dedicated criminal defense attorneys who have helped countless Floridians facing criminal charges such as DUIs. We are on your side. We will carefully review your situation, help you clearly understand your legal options, and vigorously defend your rights so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible. Reach out to Law Offices of Greg Rosenfeld by calling (561) 902-1122 or by contacting us online for a free consultation.

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