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Breathalyzer test refusal law in spotlight

The implied consent laws of Florida are relatively well-known and easily understood. A driver under suspicion of DUI currently has the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test without facing serious fines and penalties. In fact, the greatest threat posed to individuals that refuse a Breathalyzer test is the automatic one year suspension of their driver's license. Unfortunately, new interest in revamping these laws may lead to significantly larger penalties including fines and points off the offender's driver's license.

What is known as Senate Bill 1244, if passed, would increase the penalty for drivers that refuse a Breathalyzer test from an automatic one-year suspension to six months probation, four points off their license and up to a $1000 fine. As harsh as this may seem, drivers should keep in mind that this would be the minimum for a first time refusal. Just like a DUI, the penalties for a breath test refusal would increase with a second offense.

Under the new bill, a second refusal would increase the penalty to a charge of first-degree misdemeanor. This offense would carry a fine of $1000 and potentially a year in prison. These second time refusal offenders would also be required to install an ignition lock in their vehicle at their own expense.

It is the hope of many that Senate Bill 1244 will close the gap between those who refuse a Breathalyzer test and those who are arrested on suspicion of DUI. Regardless of if this bill passes, individuals facing the current or future penalties related to a breath test refusal may be able to reduce or eliminate these charges and penalties with the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney.

Source: TCPALM, "Florida should increase penalties for motorists who refuse Breathalyzer test," Feb. 10, 2016

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