Florida prosecutors take DUIs seriously. One way that drunk driving is proven is through chemical tests — breath, urine or blood tests — to show that a driver was impaired while driving. Under Florida's implied consent law, if you operate a vehicle in the state and you're lawfully arrested for a DUI, you have implicitly given consent to submit to lawful requests for breath or urine testing to determine your blood alcohol content, or to test for the presence of controlled substances. If you refuse a DUI chemical test under those circumstances, there will likely be adverse consequences. The experienced St. Petersburg DUI attorneys of Blake & Dorsten can evaluate the facts surrounding your case, and help you understand your legal options.DUI Refusal
Under Florida's implied consent law, if a police officer has probable cause to think you've been driving under the influence and arrests you, you have implicitly consented to take a breath or urine test so that your blood alcohol content (BAC) can be discovered. You can be tested more than once. There are certain circumstances under which the police can compel or require you to take a blood test.
You can refuse to take a breath or urine test unless you're involved in an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury to another. However, upon a first refusal, your driving privileges can be suspended for a year. If you refuse a second or third or subsequent time, you can have your license suspended for 18 months and also be charged with a misdemeanor. There is a brief window of time within which it may be possible to challenge the license suspension.Exception to Implied Consent
Your driver's license cannot be suspended for DUI refusal where a DUI arrest was illegal. In other words, if the police stopped you without a reasonable suspicion that you had broken or were breaking the law, the refusal to take the test can't be used to suspend your license. Similarly, if a DUI arrest is made without probable cause that you were driving under the influence, your refusal to take the test could not be used to obtain a license suspension.Refusing to Take a Test
Generally, it is not wise to refuse to take a chemical test. If the DUI arrest is for a first offense and your BAC was less than .16, you may qualify for the Florida diversion program. However, not all counties offer diversion programs. The diversion program involves community service, education, and fines. The completion of the program would allow the DUI charges to be dropped, and after that, you may be able to apply to have your record expunged.
However, if you refuse to take the chemical test, you become ineligible to participate in the diversion program. Under Florida Statutes, Section 316.1932, a refusal to take a chemical or breath test when a police officer has asked can be admitted into evidence in a criminal proceeding. A prosecutor will usually argue that you refused the chemical test because you were aware that you were driving under the influence. A skilled DUI lawyer can help you develop a defense strategy.Defenses
There may be defenses you can raise in connection with a DUI refusal and license suspension. However, you also shouldn't assume that a DUI conviction is assured because you submitted to a chemical test that showed a BAC of .08 or greater. There may be ways we can challenge the results of a chemical test. For example, it may be possible to challenge the results of a Breathalyzer test that measures the level of ethanol on your breath. A BAC reading can be unduly high if you burped during the 20 minutes prior to administration of the Breathalyzer. Sometimes a Breathalyzer is not appropriately calibrated or the police officer who administers the test has failed to go through the proper training.Consult an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
If you refused to take a DUI chemical test in St. Petersburg, and you are concerned about the consequences, Blake & Dorsten may be able to help. We represent clients facing first-time, repeat, drug, and other DUI charges. Rex Blake and Nicholas Dorsten are available 24 hours a day; after hours and on weekends, your call will be forwarded directly to a lawyer's personal cell phone. We travel to any local county jail to meet with potential clients and accept prepaid or collect calls from local county jails. We also represent clients in Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and Pinellas County. Call us at 727-286-6141 or contact us via our online form.