There is a thin line that separates a driver who can legally drive after drinking and one who has committed a crime. How thin is that line? The difference between .07 and .09 could be a half a beer for some. However, where consequences are concerned, the difference means thousands of dollars in fines and a criminal record.
One of the most surefire ways for the police to get evidence that a driver is too drunk to drive is to have them submit to a breath test or to undergo other chemical tests. You can refuse to take these tests, but pretty soon the consequences of refusing tests may rival the consequences for driving under the influence.
New Measure Proposed to Strengthen Penalties for Refusing DUI Tests
In February, Senator David Simmons proposed measures that would strengthen penalties against anyone who refuses a DUI test.
A first refusal would result in $500-$1,000 in fines and four points on the driver’s license. The driver would also be put on probation for six months.
Drivers who refuse a DUI test and already have a previous refusal on their record would be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the driver could face up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. The driver would also have to get an ignition interlock device on their car upon getting their license back. Ignition interlock devices can cost thousands of dollars for installation and monthly fees.
What Happens If You Refuse a DUI Test Now?
It will be a few months until we know the fate of the proposed measure. In the meantime, you still face penalties if you refuse a chemical test. If the above consequences sound harsh, keep in mind that they will be additions to the current penalties for refusing a chemical test.
Florida is allowed to penalize drivers who refuse these types of tests due to our “implied consent” rule. This rule states that anyone who drives a car in Florida has agreed, by virtue of accepting a driver license, to take a chemical test if an officer of the law, based on his or her belief that probable cause exists, arrests them and then asks them to submit. Refusing the chemical test can be used against you in court if you are charged with DUI or related crimes.
Moreover, if you refuse a chemical test, your license may also be up for suspension. A first refusal may result in suspension for up to a year. A second or third suspension will result in an 18-month suspension.
Remember, Tests Are Administered after a Lawful DUI Arrest
Before law enforcement officers can administer a chemical test in Florida, they must make a lawful arrest of the driver under suspicion of driving under the influence.
In order to arrest you, officers must have probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence. (Alternatively, you may be pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint without probable cause, after which probable cause may be developed.)
However, even if tests show that you were over the legal limit, it is still possible to build a strong defense and have your charges dropped.
If you drive in Florida, know your rights when it comes to police stops and searches of your personal property. If you have been arrested or charged for crimes relating to refusing chemical tests or DUI, talk to a Florida defense lawyer.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.