Chemical Test Refusal

Refusing a Chemical Test in Florida

If you are arrested for a DUI, a police officer will ask you to take a chemical test. Usually you will be asked to take a Breathalyzer test, but you also can be asked to take another chemical test, usually a blood test. You may be wondering if you can refuse to take a chemical test. While you can refuse a chemical test, there are serious consequences for this decision. Certain laws apply regardless of the details of your case, but you should consult an experienced Palm Beach Gardens DUI defense attorney for advice on your particular situation.

What is Implied Consent?

When you get a driver’s license in Florida, you give your implied consent to taking a chemical test for blood alcohol content (BAC) or drugs when an officer has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. Even if you haven't been arrested, in fact, the police can administer a chemical test if you are passed out unconscious behind the wheel and are unable to verbally grant consent.

Some people do not want to take a chemical test because they think this will help them avoid a DUI conviction. However, before you refuse to take a chemical test, you should be aware that refusing to submit to the test has its own adverse consequences. Failing to take the test for the first time means your license is subject to administrative suspension for one year. For a second or any subsequent refusal, the court can treat the refusal as a first-degree misdemeanor, suspend your license for 18 months, and impose other penalties. This can lead to difficulties getting to your job or school.

On the other hand, by refusing to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test, you may have a better chance of avoiding a DUI conviction. It is easier for a prosecutor to win his or her case with an admissible chemical test result. A presumption of guilt attaches if your test results show a BAC of .08 or higher. If you refuse the test, the prosecutor must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that your normal faculties were “impaired” because you were intoxicated. They can prove this using witness testimony and circumstantial evidence, but it is much harder.

In one situation, you may not refuse to take a blood test. A Florida police officer may use reasonable force to require you to take a blood test if the officer has probable cause to believe you caused serious bodily injury or death while driving under the influence.

Contact a West Palm Beach DUI Defense Attorney

I have 30 years of experience, which includes five years working as a state prosecutor, handling DUI and other similar charges. I will challenge all evidence that is subject to being discredited and work to get your case dismissed or the charges reduced. Schedule a free initial consultation at my Palm Beach Gardens office, located near I-95 and PGA Boulevard, by calling 561-533-1221 or sending me a message through my online form. For your convenience, I have a second office in West Palm Beach, and I accept credit cards. A knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney can change the outcome of your criminal case for the better.