Everything You Need to Know About DUI Refusal

The state of Florida is clear that driving is a privilege, not a right. Many of the drivers charged with DUI in Florida are also accused of violating the Florida DUI refusal law. The charge of refusing to submit to chemical testing may appear basic, but it can be a complex and open to interpretation.

A breath or blood sample from a suspect is required by a law enforcement officer in order to prove that the driver was under the influence. Rather than attempting to obtain a warrant for each DUI arrest, Florida DUI suspects are asked to “voluntarily” give a breath or urine sample. Refusal to provide a breath and/or urine sample comes with its own set of legal challenges, as spelled out in Florida Statute 316.1932. Motorists are able to give consent to any approved chemical and physical tests administered by law enforcement to determine the level of alcohol in their blood/breath. In addition to the penalties generally imposed in a DUI conviction, a Florida DUI refusal accusation will result in additional criminal court penalties.

This is known as "The Implied Consent Law" as outlined in Florida Statute 877.111. If you have been arrested for DUI, then you will be read this law. You will be instructed to offer a breath and/or urine test to determine your levels of alcohol consumption. You will also be instructed that should you refuse, your license may be suspended (one year, or 18 months if there is a record of prior refusal). If you refuse a second time, it is likely that you will be charged with another misdemeanor. However, you will be informed of this before you are charged. The DUI suspect must be awake and aware enough to comprehend the warning. There would be grounds to refute a subsequent Florida refusal claim if a driver was too drunk or unable to grasp the admonishment. Prosecutors will use your failure to test as a major part of your case. Typically, the argument of "The defendant refused to provide a breath sample because they know they were over the legal limit" is present.

However, it is not uncommon for some to refuse a test for reasons outside of being under the influence. Some do not trust the machine's reliability, or they asked to speak to an attorney first and were denied this request. There may be other difficulties that throw the veracity of a Florida DUI refusal accusation into question. If law enforcement delayed testing unreasonably, rather than the suspect driver, that driver cannot be charged of refusing to submit to testing. In addition, a driver suspected of driving under the influence could have a medical condition or other issue that would make it difficult for him or her to submit a sufficient sample.

What exactly defines a Florida DUI refusal is not always apparent. While a Florida DUI refusal can be as straightforward as a driver saying “no” when requested to submit to testing, there are times when the act of refusal is more subtle. Law enforcement officers may consider a Florida DUI refusal if a driver verbally agrees to submit to testing but then tries to postpone or avoid it by pretending to blow into the device or by asking numerous questions.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) only allows the administrative suspension of driving privileges to be challenged if the necessary paperwork is submitted within 10 days of the arrest. So, if you refuse a test, immediate action, such as finding the right lawyer, is crucial.

This information is provided for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.

Have questions about DUI refusal? Contact the law offices of Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer Mark Eiglarsh for more information.

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