Seeing police flashing their lights in your rear view mirror is never a pleasant experience, but things can quickly get complicated if you may have slipped up and consumed one too many alcoholic beverages before jumping behind the wheel. So when you get pulled over in or near Tampa, FL, should you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or is it best to comply with the police? Our DUI attorneys weigh in on Florida’s implied consent law and offer a few insights on what happens if you refuse to take a sobriety test.
What is the Implied Consent Law in Florida?
According to Florida’s statute, anyone who accepts the “privilege extended by the laws of this state of operating a motor vehicle within this state” has given “consent to submit to an approved chemical test or physical test” when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer with reasonable cause to believe the person “was driving or was in actual physical control of the motor vehicle (…) while under the influence of alcoholic beverages.”
In other words, by carrying a Florida driver’s license and operating a vehicle in the state, you agree to take a breath, blood, urine or physical test to verify if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the limits allowed by law anytime an officer has enough reason to believe you have been drinking and driving. You are allowed to refuse taking these tests, but such refusal is not without significant consequences.
What Happens if I Refuse a Sobriety Test After Being Pulled Over?
After you have been stopped, the officer is required to inform you of what can happen if you refuse the test. If this is the first time someone refuses a test, they may have their license suspended for 1 year. If this is the individual’s second refusal after having their license previously suspended for the same reason, this person will be looking at an 18-month suspension of their driving privileges and may also be looking at being charged with a misdemeanor. Refusing the test is in itself a piece of evidence that is admissible in court.
In short, refusing to take a DUI test when asked may be just as bad or perhaps worse than agreeing to it. When you are charged with a DUI in Tampa, it doesn’t always mean you will lose your license, or if you do end up facing a suspension, it may not last for one year or 18 months, while a refusal to take a test automatically means you lose your driving privileges for a long time and become ineligible for a Florida diversion program or any other lighter sentencing alternatives.
Will My License Still Be Suspended if the DUI Arrest Was Unlawful?
If you are able to successfully prove that your stop and subsequent arrest was unlawful and that the law enforcement officer did not have enough probable cause to pull your vehicle over and make the arrest, any evidence collected during the stop and arrest will likely be deemed invalid and your charges may be dropped. However, it is important to highlight that accomplishing this is not easy to do. This is when working with a DUI attorney may make or break your case.
How Can a DUI Attorney Help Me?
If you have been charged with a DUI, there are many options a DUI attorney can explore to convince the court to drop your case or give you a lighter sentence. Contact our Tampa, FL office and request a free case evaluation to see how our seasoned DUI attorneys can help you fight back.