To Blow Or Not To Blow- Breathalyzers in Florida DUI Cases

Breathalyzer tests in Florida are a controversial legal aspect to any DUI stop.  Breathalyzers are controversial in part because there is substantial evidence that they are unreliable, especially the hand-held portable devices.  Secondly, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, a blood test or a urine test will result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license in the state of Florida under the Implied Consent law.  Now, there is one caveat to this-in 2011, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that your driver’s license could not be suspended for refusing a breathalyzer test IF the arrest was determined to be unlawful.  That is a huge contingency but it is the only way around an automatic suspension for a test refusal.

Generally speaking, refusal  to take a breath test when arrested for DUI in the state of Florida, will lead to your arrest and other evidence will be gathered by police to gain a conviction.  The consequences for refusal may be milder than those for a DUI conviction, but in most cases you will lose your license automatically. Unfortunately, once you are stopped by a police officer there is no sure way of knowing your BAC which would be the ideal and ultimate determining factor in your decision to submit to the test.

Should you be convicted of DUI in the state of Florida, you face fines, possible jail time, and could even be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. That is the worst case scenario.

Some Florida counties offer a diversion program for first time DUI offenses.  However, Pinellas County does not offer this program.  If the prosecutor does not have a blood, urine, or breath test that provides evidence of impairment it may be easier to get the initial DUI charged reduced to a lesser offense such as reckless driving.  Such a scenario is contingent upon many factors including the circumstances surrounding the initial DUI stop, your behavior, and the standards by which the officer interacted with you at the time of the DUI stop.

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