Driving after having a drink is not a crime. You can be charged with a crime when the alcohol has "impaired" your ability to drive. Since you are a responsible person, you are always careful about how many drinks you have at a restaurant, a bar or a friend's house so you can get home safe.
Of course, the legal line between impaired and not impaired is not always clear. The legal limit in Florida is .08 percent. That "limit" is the point in which you can be charged with a per se offense, but you can still get into trouble with a lower blood alcohol concentration. Even if the officer sticks to the .08 guide, it is always your "best guess" as to whether you will blow a .79 BAC, .08 BAC or .81 BAC on the breath test.
If you are like most people, the question running through your mind when you see the flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror is, "Should I submit or refuse the breath test?"
Is it in your best interest to submit or refuse?
When you see the officer walking up to your window, you are already weighing your options. Will refusing help you avoid consequences? Will it help or hurt your case should you go to court? Do you even have the right to refuse the test?
First things first; Yes, you have a right to refuse. As sure as it is your right to refuse, is the fact that you will face consequences for your decision.
What could happen if you refuse a test in Florida?
You get to choose whether you want to refuse. Is it the best decision? That can depend on many factors, and the answer is not the same in every case. We can't provide the perfect legal advice online without knowing your individual situation, but we can tell you about the potential consequences so that you can make an informed decision should you be asked to choose.
Under Florida law, the penalties for refusal are:
- Suspension of your driver's license for one year
- Suspension of your driver's license for 18 months if your license is already suspended or revoked for a prior refusal
- Your refusal can be used against you in court should you be charged with DUI
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, a second breath test refusal is also a misdemeanor offense.
The other important point to remember is that you have options whether you chose to refuse or you submitted to the test and now face DUI for an above-.08 result. The best way to know about your options and take advantage of them is to contact an attorney.
A criminal defense attorney who has handled many drunk driving cases is not going to throw up their arms and say, "Your case is hopeless." They are going to look for ways to repair the situation and lessen the consequences you face - at The Rudman Law Group, our attorney is very good at his job.