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Challenging Florida Law: Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test

by Aaron Delgado
June 29th, 2015

STATE OF FLORIDA vs. WILLIAM WILLIAMS

Case Summary

On October 4, 2013, our client William Williams was issued five uniform traffic citations (UTCs) including citations for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and for "Refusal to Submit To a Chemical Test."

Refusing to submit to a chemical test after previously refusing to submit to such a test is a criminal offense which allows the State to get a "second bite" at the apple when a smart defendant does not cooperate. Here, Mr. Williams, not trusting the breath test machine and acting on the advice of his attorneys, refused to give a breath test when he was pulled over on his way to Wal-Mart.

Due to a mail "glitch" with the DMV, Mr. Williams was unaware that his license was suspended at the time he was pulled over. Still, he found himself facing a criminal charge for Driving While License Suspended along with other criminal charges. We immediately determined that we held a strong defense to the DUI and Driving While License Suspended (DWLS), since the DMV messed up mail, which happens all the time. However, we still had to fight the refusal charge.

Court Rulings

On August 26, 2014, we took the case before a jury and ultimately six wise citizens found Mr. Williams not guilty of Count I DWLS and Count II DUI.

On September 17, 2014, the County Court considered the severed count of Refusal to Submit. At the hearing on our Motion to Dismiss as Unconstitutional, the State and our Firm stipulated there was sufficient probable cause to ask Mr. Williams to submit to a breath test, that the stop was lawful, that Mr. Williams refused to take a breath test, and that Mr. Williams's driving record had an entry indicating a prior refusal to submit to a breath test.

The State did not present any evidence that exigent circumstances created an exception to the warrant requirement. The County Court issued an Order denying Mr. Williams' Motion to Dismiss, but recognized how important this novel legal issue was. The County Court accepted Mr. Williams' plea of no contest with reservation of the right to appeal the denial of the Motion to Dismiss, adjudicated him guilty on the charge of refusing to submit, and sentenced him to court costs, fines, and time served.

Appealing for the Greater Good

Although our contract did not cover any appeals, the Firm believed this was an issue of great public importance and knew that we had a chance to make a real difference in an emerging area of law. So, at no charge to Mr. Williams, we prepared and filed an appeal to the Fifth District Court of Appeals. Ultimately, the Court issued its opinion, which we believe significantly changes Florida DUI law. We are preparing to appeal this issue to the Florida Supreme Court.

Trial Attorneys on the Cutting Edge of DUI Law

Mr. Williams's case is one of "first impression," meaning we are dealing with aspects of DUI law which have never been heard in Florida before. We are on the cutting edge of this issue and are working to influence new laws which we believe will help everyone accused of driving under the influence.

Many times, lawyers accept a challenge because it is the right thing to do. This is one of those times.

If you or a loved one has been accused of DUI or DUI related charges, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.

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