Refusing A Breath Test


In the state of Florida, a conviction of a DUI can have many consequences including a driver's license suspension, fines and court costs well over $1000, alcohol classes, outpatient treatment, probation, community service and even possible imprisonment depending on the gravity of the case. A popular question among most DUI offenders is whether or not one should take a Breathalyzer test when pulled over by a law enforcement officer for a suspected DUI. The breathalyzer is meant to determine if your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit of .08, which would result in a charge of driving under the influence. Many people in the community think that if you refuse you will not be arrested for a DUI. That thinking is flawed because one can still be arrested and convicted of DUI under F.S. 316.193 if there is other evidence separate and apart from a breath test that indicates that person was impaired while driving.


The question becomes do I take the test or refuse? The message from many criminal defense attorneys in the past had always been to refuse the test if you are suspected of DUI because you do not want to offer potential incriminating evidence against yourself that could be used in your prosecution and trial. This message permeated society and many citizens today think they should always refuse if pulled over or accused of DUI.


It must be known that a refusal is not always your best option and it may come with very harsh consequences on your privilege to drive both administratively and in the criminal courtroom. Over the last few years the legislature has increased the administrative penalties for your privilege to drive if you refuse the test. If you refuse it is a 1 year suspension of your license. On any additional refusal it is now an 18 month driving suspension without any chance at a business permit under F.S. 316.1932. (LINK)In criminal court you now receive one refusal in your life; subsequently any additional refusals are crimes and prosecuted as first degree misdemeanors under F.S. 316.1939.


With these changes there is more to think about and the advice of "just refuse" may no longer be the right choice for many individuals with that tough decision. If you refuse a Breath test and have been drinking and driving, you will most likely still be spending the rest of your night in jail, have your driver's license suspended by the DMV and face a criminal prosecution. The refusal will potentially avoid offering the State of Florida strong evidence of your guilt in the form of a breath result over the legal limit. However, it will also carry longer administrative suspensions of your license and potentially an additional crime.

So do you take the test or refuse? A Breath test is the strongest evidence in a DUI criminal case, so if you think you are impaired by alcohol and have been drinking and operating a motor vehicle, it can be in one's best interest to refuse the test. By refusing the Breath test, you are preventing the state from gathering incriminating information against you, but consequences will still follow and you must be aware of how this decision may affect your privilege to drive. Whether you take the test or refuse if you are arrested for a DUI it is imperative you seek out an experienced Daytona Beach DUI Lawyer.