Many drivers are familiar with breathalyzers, even if they have never had to use one. When police officers pull someone over because they suspect the driver is impaired, they will ask the driver to blow into the device to get a reading of the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the reading is above 0.08 percent, the driver is then arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). However, what many drivers do not realize is that these machines are not very reliable. They are notorious for being calibrated improperly and that calibration is actually quite easy to throw off.
So, should drivers refuse breathalyzers in Florida? While the answer to that will depend on the specific facts of a case, there are some things all drivers should know about refusing a breathalyzer test.
Implied Consent Laws in Florida
Florida is governed by not only DUI laws, but also an implied consent law. This law states that all drivers give consent to a breathalyzer test if they get behind the wheel of a car. Due to this law, there is a consequence to refusing a breathalyzer test. That consequence is a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension for a first offense, regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted of a DUI or not. A second offense will result in an 18-month suspension of your driver’s license and a conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor. This type of misdemeanor carries a possibility of 12 months in jail, 12 months of probation, a fine of $1,000, or jail or probation time and a fine.
Exception to the Implied Consent Law
In order for law enforcement to stop you for a suspected DUI, they must have probable cause. That means you must have taken action, such as weaving in and out of your lane, that gives the officer reasons to suspect that you are impaired. When law enforcement did not have this reasonable cause, but stopped you anyway, it is an exception to the implied consent law and you should not face any penalties for it. However, it can be very difficult to prove that the officer did not have probable cause at the time of your arrest, which is one reason you should always work with a DUI lawyer that can help your case.
Refusal May Not Protect You from Charges
Even when you do refuse a breathalyzer, it does not automatically mean that you will not face charges. You can be charged with a DUI for either having a BAC greater than the legal limit of 0.08 percent or if the officer suspects you are impaired. As such, if the police officer suspects that a person is impaired, they can still arrest them, even if they do not have proof that the driver’s BAC is over 0.08 percent.
Charged with a DUI? Call Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with a DUI, regardless of whether you took a breathalyzer test or not, you need the help of our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at O’Mara Law Group. We know how to defend against these charges and give you the best chance of success with your case. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.