Sarasota, Florida imposes stiff penalties for DUI convictions. Some people believe that it is better to refuse to take a breathalyzer test if they have been drinking before they were pulled over so that law enforcement will not have proof that the person was drinking. However, refusing to take this test can have several negative consequences. There are certain legal implications when a person takes this course of action.
Florida's Implied Consent Law
Florida has an implied consent law which basically states that when a person accepts a Florida driver's license or the privilege of driving within the state he or she has given consent to submit to a chemical test or other physical test if he is stopped for the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A breathalyzer test falls under this category of tests. In some circumstances, a law enforcement officer is legally able to use reasonable force to make the person submit to a blood test or conduct a blood alcohol content test.
Legal Consequences and Other Consequences for Refusing to Take Breathalyzer Test
The first time that a person refuses to take a breathalyzer test, he or she can lose his or her driver's license for one year. The second time that a person refuses a breathalyzer test, his or her driver's license can be suspended for up to 18 months. A person who refuses a breathalyzer test for the second time can also face a misdemeanor conviction for this offense alone. A conviction can equate to up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Additionally, the prosecution can use other evidence to convict the person of the original crime for which the test was requested. For example, if law enforcement officers had a dash camera, this information can still be used in a court proceeding for a DUI charge. Additionally, the prosecution can rely on field sobriety tests, video evidence of the person during the booking process and other interactions with law enforcement officers, and police testimony to support their claim that the person was intoxicated at the time of the arrest. This situation can cause the defendant to face two criminal charges, instead of just the one for DUI.
Assistance from a Florida DUI Lawyer
Being convicted of a DUI or refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test can both pose very serious consequences to a defendant. Being convicted of a DUI can result in being sentenced to jail, receiving a hefty fine and losing driver's license privileges. A person may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device into his or her vehicle or he or she may be ordered to an alcohol treatment center. A DUI attorney can look at the facts of a person's case and determine the best legal strategy. A person may have a constitutional argument against the law enforcement agency if he or she never should have been stopped. In other cases, a reduction of charges or plea bargain may provide the best result.