Breathalyzer Refusal Defense
Is There a Penalty for a Breathalyzer Refusal in Florida?
Every state has their own rules when it comes to getting pulled over, and it’s better to know the rules before it happens rather than after. If a cop detains you because they suspect you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then knowing your rights when it comes to breathalyzer refusal could save you hefty fines or it could land you in even more serious hot water.
Playing the Odds
If you have a Florida driver’s license, then you’ve technically already agreed to complete any and all tests that may be requested of you. It’s known as implied consent and basically means that you’re agreeing to the cop’s orders when you’re in the car — not necessarily when you’re driving. Even if you want to sleep it off at the bar, the police have the right to give charge you if you’re doing so in the driver’s seat. This is based on the fact that you could wake up at any point and begin operating the vehicle. You have to be in physical control of the car, and it’s fairly easy for the police to argue that you have control even if you’re not actually driving at the time. If you make the decision for a breathalyzer refusal, then one potential consequence could be the loss of your license for a full year. If it’s the second or third time you’ve refused then it could be a full 18 months. That doesn’t seem like it’s open to a lot of interpretation, but just like with everything in life there are exceptions.
Breathalyzers aren’t entirely accurate, and faulty ones have been known to give the people tested by them a lot of hassle. They can be thrown off by a person’s diet, an incorrect calibration or the tester’s inability to conduct the device appropriately. You’re also under no obligation to comply with the officer if they pull you over for no reason as they are not allowed to harass you. However, you run the risk of your refusal being taken as evidence of your guilt, meaning you could still be charged with the DUI even without the physical proof.
When to Exercise Your Rights for a Breathalyzer Refusal
Admittedly, this can be a hard choice to make when you’re in the heat of the moment. However, unless you truly feel that you can reason with a jury or judge that you had just cause not to take the test, then you’re likely better off just taking the test. A DUI can land you up 9 months in jail, 180 days of a loss license, a fine of up to $2,000, probation or mandated DUI school. A breathalyzer refusal could conceivably get you off with no penalties, or it could add to the consequences with the loss of your license for an extra 6 months. Also, it’s helpful to know that certain counties in Florida allow first-time offenders (whose breathalyzer results are under .16) the option to do a pre-trial diversion which essentially means you’ll get a bit of a break. These programs allow for people to pay for drunk driving preventative programs (so you’ll still need to spend some cash), but also mean that the charges can be dropped after completion.
Whether or not you opt for a breathalyzer refusal, you should consult a lawyer to help you through the specifics of your case. Each arrest and charge is looked at individually, so it’s difficult to know exactly what will be in store for you based on prior offenses or extenuating circumstances at the time of arrest. The attorneys at the Salnick, Fuchs & Bertisch, P.A. have built their careers on DUI laws, and have handled thousands of cases between them. They’re able to give you the reassurance and advice you need during an extremely confusing and difficult time. If you have been pulled over or have questions about breathalyzer refusal contact us today for a free consultation at 561-257-1005.