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What happens when you refuse a breath test in Florida?

Most Florida motorists understand how serious DUI offenses can be in the state. It's not hard to understand it since the government spends so much time and energy on public education relating to this exact issue. That's also why many people who have reason to believe a breath test might incriminate them are tempted to refuse the test, at least at first. It's a thought that has probably crossed everyone's mind at one point or another, and if you are pulled over for reasons that have nothing to do with your driving coordination, it might seem like a reasonable thing to do. Unfortunately, there are major consequences to this choice due to the state's implied consent law.

What is implied consent and how does it apply to DUI?

Implied consent is the idea that since operating a motor vehicle is not a constitutionally guaranteed right but a state-offered privilege, participating in the licensing process to gain that privilege involves consenting to safety measures like testing for substances in your bloodstream. The legal theory has been held to be sound, and at this point, every state has some variation on the law.

In Florida, there are particular ways this law interacts with the DUI statute in general:

  • It provides for automatic penalties upon refusal.
  • The refusal of a test can be used as evidence against you in a DUI trial.
  • The officer is required to present you with a notification card that explains the consequences of refusing the particular test the officer has selected.
  • The officer is free to select any of the three major tests for blood alcohol levels: blood, urine, or breath.

What to do if you are breath tested

If you are breath tested and charged with a DUI, your best option is to contact an experienced DUI attorney. Taking a test that produces faulty results and then seeking legal help to make sure you get justice has far fewer consequences under current state law than refusing the breath test, and experienced attorneys understand how to present a defense that highlights the issues with breath tests in your particular case.

To avoid setting yourself up for automatic penalties and a presumption that you have something to hide, you need to take the breath test, but that is not the end of the discussion. There are plenty of ways to address the issue after the test, you just need the right advice and help to understand which avenues are likely to be most productive in your case.

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