A police officer who has reason to think that you are driving while intoxicated might initiate a traffic stop. Once they speak to you, they might ask that you take a breath test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). This might be a challenging request for you to handle because you want to cooperate, but you don’t want to provide the sample. This is understandable.
It is best to know what might happen in these cases. If you do opt to take the breath test, the officer might still be able to arrest you even if it shows you aren’t legally intoxicated. This is because they might go off other signs of impairment that were present. Of course, there is also the chance that they will let you go free if you don’t show any other signs, and the test shows in your favor.
If you choose not to take the test, you automatically face some legal repercussions. One of these is that you might lose your driver’s license due to the state’s implied consent law. This law means that you agreed to chemical testing for BAC when you accepted your driver’s license. Florida also includes physical tests like field sobriety tests in the implied consent law.
On the first offense of refusing the breath test, you can face a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. A subsequent offense nets an 18-month suspension. You could face other penalties on subsequent refusals because anything after the first one is a misdemeanor.
The only way that you can refuse a breath test without facing any penalties is if the DUI arrest isn’t lawful. This means that the officer arrested you without having probable cause or stopped you without having reasonable suspicion.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, you might have the option of entering into a pre-trial diversion program. Be warned – if you refuse to submit to a breath test, you are automatically ineligible for this program, so think about this when you make the decision.
If possible, speak with your attorney before making your decision. He or she can advise you of your legal options.