During a DUI arrest in Florida, it is typical for the arresting officer to ask the detained individual to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test in order to determine impairment. Many states, including Florida, make it a separate crime to refuse such a test. Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s “no refusal” implied consent law if you find yourself suspected of driving under the influence.
Prior to implied consent laws, obtaining a breath, blood, or urine sample during a DUI investigation required a warrant. Obtaining a traditional warrant takes time, sometimes several hours, during which an individual’s body was able to filter alcohol out of his or her body. As a result, any test carried out after obtaining a warrant would almost certainly return results that were much different than they would have been had the test been administered immediately upon arrest.
In order to obtain blood alcohol content (BAC) test results closer to arrest, several states passed “implied consent” laws. An implied consent law says that any person holding a driver’s license automatically consents to blood, breath, or urine testing upon a lawful arrest for DUI. Therefore, refusing to submit to such a test becomes a crime in and of itself.
Currently more than half of the US states have some form of no refusal laws. In some states the law is used only sparingly, and in others the law is only used during certain times (“no refusal weekend”).
Types Of Test
There are three tests used most frequently to determine BAC in Florida
A breath test (“breathalyzer”) uses infrared light to determine BAC, while blood and urine tests use chemical means to determine BAC. Breath tests are used by law enforcement when they suspect only alcohol intoxication. If the arresting officer suspects other substances may be involved, that officer may request a urine test. In Florida, a driver is not permitted to refuse either test.
In cases where a breath or urine test are impractical or impossible, for instance if the suspect is unconscious or hospitalized, law enforcement may require a blood test for controlled substances. Although the suspect is usually unconscious or otherwise unable to object at the time of the test, that suspect may not argue that lack of consent makes the blood test results inadmissible at trial.
In Florida, a driver who refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test for alcohol or controlled substances faces a license suspension of one year. However, subsequent refusals lead to a license suspension of 18 months.
As unlawfully refusing to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test is a crime, it may also lead to a conviction and penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Additionally, simply refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test during a DUI arrest may be used against the defendant at trial, where prosecutors may use such a refusal to show impairment or intoxication.