If you have been stopped anywhere in Florida under suspicion that you have been drinking and driving, you will probably be asked to carry out some tests outside your car. The police call these sobriety tests as they are supposed to give an idea of how sober you might be. The tests include things like walking in a straight line and turning, standing on one foot and counting or reciting the alphabet. The policeman who has stopped you will probably smell your breath at the same time and may even ask you to use a field breathalyzer.
These tests can be biased, as it depends on the policeman’s personal judgment as to whether you are drunk or not. You are not forced to do these tests. You can refuse to do them, but you will probably be arrested for DUI anyway and your license will be seized immediately. You will also have to go to the nearest police station and be asked to take a test to measure your blood alcohol content or BAC.
If you have a Florida license you may remember something called “implied consent” when you got your license. In fact, these words are written in small letters on your driver license. It means that in this state you are only allowed to drive because you have agreed that you will take a blood or breath test for blood alcohol if you are arrested for drunk driving. This is why it is called “implied consent”. You have consented to take a test when asked to do so in exchange for being allowed to drive.
In fact, if you have been already arrested for DUI and taken to a police station, you still have the right to refuse to take a blood or breath test, unless you have been involved in an accident in which somebody has been seriously injured or killed. If you refuse, then you must realize that there are some serious consequences. Your license will be suspended automatically for 12 months for a first refusal. If it is the second time you have refused, then your license will be suspended for 18 months and you will be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor.
This could mean a big fine or jail or both. Your charge could also be added to the charge of DUI if you are convicted of that offense. Your refusal can and probably will be used as evidence against you in court, even though the police have no results of a blood test for alcohol. The prosecutor will say that your refusal is evidence that you were knowingly drunk.
Whatever you choose to do when arrested for DUI, you are best getting a good Tampa DUI lawyer to represent you, even if you have refused a BAC test. Most lawyers will generally recommend that you do not refuse to take a BAC test as the consequences of refusing can be as bad as or even worse than being DUI. Also, a good DUI lawyer knows how to tackle your DUI arrest and charge by examining every step of the arrest carefully and critically.
DUI lawyers can get you off a DUI charge or at least get the sentence minimized. You can still choose to refuse to take an alcohol test, but Florida’s implied consent laws mean you will be penalized quite severely.