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The Implications of Refusing a DUI Breath Test in Florida

In Florida, drivers stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence do not have to submit to blood, breath or urine testing that measures their blood-alcohol concentration. Refusing a DUI breath test carries significant consequences, though, in addition to any penalties imposed for impaired driving.

Refusing a breath or DUI test has negative consequences because of Florida's implied consent law. The law states that, by accepting the privilege of driving in Florida, drivers are deemed to have consented to state-approved DUI tests involving chemical or physical evaluations such as a Breathalyzer breath test. Put simply, submitting to DUI testing is a condition of driving in the state.

In most cases, drivers may refuse to submit to testing and suffer administrative penalties. However, if a driver is suspected of causing serious bodily injury or death while driving drunk, a police officer may use reasonable force, if necessary, to get the driver to submit to a blood test.

Drivers lawfully arrested for DUI who refuse blood, breath or urine testing receive an automatic driver's license suspension for one year. If a driver's license was previously suspended for a prior DUI test refusal, his or her license is automatically suspended for 18 months. In addition, drivers whose licenses were previously suspended for refusing DUI testing and who refuse testing a second time will also be charged with a misdemeanor.

A driver's refusal to submit to DUI testing is generally admissible in later criminal proceedings for charges such as driving under the influence. Also, the administrative penalties for refusing a blood, breath or urine test are in addition to any sentence imposed for a DUI conviction. For these reasons, while drivers may refuse DUI testing in Florida, it may not always be a wise decision.

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