Refusing To Take A Breathalyzer Test In Florida

Many drivers pulled over for suspected DUI believe that if they don’t submit to testing, the likelihood of them being charged and convicted will be less than if they were to take the test and fail. What you may not realize is that refusing to take a breath test will result in penalties completely separate from—and in addition to—the penalties of the actual DUI.

Refusal to take a breath test is considered a civil offense, punishable by administrative actions. An “administrative action” in this case is the driver's license suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The actions of the DMV are completely separate from the actions of the criminal court.

The DMV Has Its Own Penalties

Though you are not required to take a breathalyzer upon arrest, remember that—by having a driver’s license—you have already agreed to such a test. This is considered your Implied Consent. Refusing to take a breathalyzer will result in a driver's license suspension that is based on your number of prior offenses.

The first time you refuse to a breath test, your license will be suspended for one year. You have 10 days to appeal this suspension before it happens—if you miss the deadline, your license will be revoked immediately on the 10th day following your arrest. You will also be required to take 12 hours of driving school and have a 90-day period of “hard suspension,” which means that you may not drive at all for 90 days. If you successfully complete the driving school course and have reached the end of your hard suspension, you may then apply for a “business purpose only” license that would enable you to travel to work or school while your license is suspended.

A second refusal to take a breathalyzer test will result in an 18-month hard suspension as well as a misdemeanor charge that is separate from your DUI offense.

Fighting A Florida Breathalyzer Refusal Suspension

If you have refused to take a breathalyzer, many prosecutors would see this as admission of guilt. This is why it is best to retain a lawyer to fight on your behalf as quickly as possible. A lawyer will help you request a 42-day permit that would allow you to drive while you wait for a hearing. Refusing a breathalyzer doesn’t mean you’re guilty.