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Can I Legally Refuse a DUI Test in Florida?

The Constitution protects your right not to incriminate yourself. It also restricts the police from conducting a search of your person without your consent–or a warrant–absent exigent circumstances. So does this mean that when an officer in Marion County or Alachua County pulls you over on suspicion of DUI you have the right to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test?

How Florida's Implied Consent Law Works

The answer to this question is more complicated than you might think. When it comes to answering police questions–e.g., “Have you been drinking tonight?”–you have an unquestioned right to remain silent. As you know, anything you say can and will be used against you in court.

But when it comes to chemical tests designed to detect the presence and concentration of alcohol in your body, your rights are not as clear-cut. Like many states, Florida has an “implied consent” law applicable to anyone who is licensed to drive on the state's highways. This means that if a police officer has probable cause to arrest you for DUI, you are “deemed to have given” consent to a blood, breath, or urine test. Such implied consent is not considered a violation of your constitutional rights, because it is a condition of your driving privileges.

That said, implied consent does not mean you have to actually give consent. You can still refuse to submit to a test voluntarily. However, there are legal consequences for refusal. Under the implied consent law–Section 316.1932 of the Florida Statutes–a refusal “will result in the suspension of the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 1 year for a first refusal.” And if your license was previously suspended for refusing to take a chemical test, a second or subsequent refusal results in an automatic 18-month suspension of your driver's license.

It is also important to note that refusing to take a chemical test can be used against you in court. Even though prosecutors may not be able to prove your exact blood-alcohol level at the time of your arrest, a refusal combined with other evidence–such as police officer and eyewitness testimony–can be enough to sustain a conviction. In this context, your refusal will not be seen as exercising your constitutional right to remain silent, but rather an implied admission that you knew you were intoxicated and would fail the test. Additionally, you can be charged with a separate misdemeanor under Section 316.1932 simply for refusing to take the test if you have a prior refusal.

Speak With a Marion County and Alachua County DUI Defense Attorney

If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, refusal to take a blood, breath, or chemical test will not necessarily save you. The best thing you can do is to not speak to the police and contact an experienced Ocala & Gainesville DUI lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and defend your rights in court. Call Dunham & Ingram LLC at (352) 353-8117 if you need to speak with an attorney right today.