You’re driving down the road and all of a sudden you see lights in your rearview mirror. You’re asked to pull over, and you do. The officer requests that you get out of the car, and before you know it you’re being told to take a breathalyzer test. Can you refuse the test? Should you? Many drivers think that they can refuse to take a breathalyzer test without consequence, but in the state of Florida nothing could be further from the truth.
Like many states, Florida’s laws include something called “implied consent”. What that means is that as soon as you take your vehicle onto the Florida roads, you’re consenting to a breath test if any officer asks you to provide one. That means that whether or not you think it’s fair, and whether or not you think your rights are being violated, you absolutely have to give the officer or officers a breath sample if you’re asked to do so.
The Cost of Saying No
You can’t be physically forced to take a test, so even though you’re not legally allowed to refuse, it’s also illegal for an officer to physically force you to take one. So what’s the solution to this dilemma? In the state of Florida, the answer is lots and lots of penalties for anyone who wants to refuse a breath test. The cost of saying no to a breathalyzer test is greater than anything you’d probably come up against if you simply took the test — even if you failed it.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can expect any combination of the following penalties.
- Automatic vehicle impoundment
- Automatic license suspension up to 18 months
- Hefty fines
- Jail time
- Difficulty in further legal proceedings
These are just the legal consequences. You can also experience job loss and other personal consequences if you lose your vehicle, your license, or you end up in jail. It’s just not worth it to say no. Even if you fail the breathalyzer, working with a DUI attorney can usually result in a far better outcome than if you had simply refused. In many cases, refusal to take a breathalyzer test strips you of many of the legal rights you would have had in a court of law and can cause the system to look down unfavorably upon you from the start.
In short, it’s just not worth saying no.
Requesting a Test
If it seems like the law has pinned you in a corner, you should know that the law also works both ways. You can request a test to clear your name even if the officer doesn’t ask you to provide a breath sample. So, let’s say you get pulled over, the officer doesn’t test your breath, and he or she wants to charge you with drunk driving. You can absolutely request to take a breathalyzer test in order to clear your name, and the officer has to provide you with one.
It’s worth knowing the law before you head out on the road. Remember that despite many of the breathalyzer myths you may have heard, time is the only thing that can remove alcohol from your system. Water might make you feel better, but it’s not going to dilute your results. To be safe, wait two hours for every drink you consumed before heading out on the road. If you do end up being convicted of a DUI, however, you can always come to ALCOLOCK for assistance with your IID program. We’re here to make the process easier and more efficient so you can get on with your life as soon as possible.