What will happen if I submit or refuse a breath test if I am stopped by police for suspicion of DUI? This question has been asked of criminal defense attorneys quite frequently. First of all, the prudent advice is to never drive if you have been drinking. The legal limit in Florida is .08%. This means that it is illegal to drive if your blood-alcohol content is .08% or above. This is generally measured by a breathalyzer test. There are many factors that determine blood-alcohol content; such as: the amount of alcohol in each drink, the size and gender of the drinker, how much the drinker has had to eat, and the length of time drinking.
If you are stopped by law enforcement who suspects you have been drinking they will ask you to perform a field sobriety test and ultimately ask you to take a breath test if you do not sufficiently perform the field sobriety test to their standards. In the experiences of the attorneys at the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC, once the officer asks you to perform the roadside field sobriety tests, he or she has generally already determined that you are impaired and thus rarely will you “pass” these roadside tests. If you blow over .08% on the breathalyzer machine then you will be charged with driving under the influence.
However, you can refuse to submit a breath sample for the breath test. Why would anyone ever submit to a breath test? Any driver of an automobile in the State of Florida “impliedly consents” to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test for alcohol content. A refusal to submit to a breath test will result in a six-month suspension of your driver’s license for a first time refusal and an eighteen-month suspension for each subsequent refusal. The benefit of not submitting to a breath test is that there is no quantitative proof of the blood-alcohol percentage. Therefore, at trial the State Attorney will have to show that you were driving impaired or above the legal limit by other evidence. This makes it more difficult for the State Attorney to convince the jury to find you guilty of driving under the influence. However, the fact that you did refuse to take the test can often be admitted as evidence and told to the jury.
If you refuse to take the test, or you do take the test and blow over the legal limit, your license will be suspended administratively by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. This suspension is separate and apart from any suspension that may later be imposed by the Court. You do have the right to contest this suspension via an administrative hearing. It is important to be aware that this hearing must be requested within 10 days of the arrest or it is waived. Thus, it is important to hire an experience attorney such as the ones at the Broward County Criminal and DUI Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC, immediately upon your arrest for DUI
If you refuse to take a breath test and your license is administratively suspended by the department of motor vehicles, you may be able to get your license back on a temporary restricted basis. Usually, once you have completed a 12 hour DUI school, you can usually get a hardship license temporarily so that you can legally drive to work and school.
If you either had not been drinking or only had 1 drink or so and believe you are DEFINITELY under the legal limit of .08% then it may be a good idea to take the breathalyzer test and keep your license from being suspended. However, if you feel that there is a question as to whether you may or may not blow over .08% then the legal benefits of not blowing outweighs the potential consequences of blowing. A driving under the influence conviction has much greater consequences than the inconvenience of not having your full, unrestricted license for six months.
If you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence it is important to immediately hire an attorney. Time is of the essence. Even if you took the breathalyzer test and blew over the legal limit, the experienced attorneys at Berman & Tsombanakis can fight for you with the goal to keep you from being convicted.