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Measuring the scope of Florida's implied consent law

As we have previously discussed on this blog, drivers in Florida consent to take a breath test for intoxication by virtue of operating a vehicle within the state. Motorists have the option to refuse a breath test, but that decision has weighty legal consequences. As such, it may not seem like people really have a choice in the matter -- with knowledge of the consequences for breath test refusal.

At the same time, it's worth looking further at the implied consent law to see what it covers. Beyond breath tests, Florida statute indicates that drivers automatically consent to urine and blood tests for alcohol. Of course, this is something that drivers may want to be aware of.

Although the validity of implied consent for breath and urine tests may generally be recognized, the issue of blood tests may not be quite as clear. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant for blood alcohol tests, unless there are clear exigent circumstances. The court’s ruling says that dissipation of alcohol over time cannot be used an excuse to conduct a warrantless blood draw.

One state's implied consent law for blood draws is being challenged as a result of the high court’s ruling, according to reports. In South Dakota, individuals do not have the ability to refuse a test for alcohol. Although this case isn’t being litigated in Florida -- and the state's implied consent laws are different -- it's still worth paying attention to. At this time, it may not be clear to drivers or law enforcement how the warrantless blood draw ruling applies in Florida cases.

Understanding that this aspect of drunk driving law is essentially in a state of flux, Florida residents could benefit from seeking legal advice after being arrested for DUI. After all, understanding the status of implied consent for blood tests could make or break a case.

Source: Florida Legislature, Florida Statutes § 316.1932, accessed June 3, 2014

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