In Florida, everyone on the roadways – they could be in a car, on a motorcycle, or operating a huge semi-truck – has automatically agreed to an “implied consent” law, whether they realize it or not. This law states that by accepting your responsibilities as a driver and using your license as issued by the state’s government, you will submit to any chemical testing requested by a law enforcement officer, or suffer the consequences.
If you are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and are consequently arrested, the police can tell you to take a blood, breath, or urine test to try to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. If you refuse to do so, which you do have the right to do, you will face immediate legal backlash in the form of complete license revocation. This will not be a slap-on-the-wrist 30-day suspension either; you will lose your license for an entire year, just for refusing to take a chemical test.
It is important to realize that this is not any sort of conviction that is revoking your license. Refusal creates a punishment that is unique and separate from any other penalty that could be coming your way. For example, if you are still convicted of a DUI, you might lose your license privileges for three months, in addition to that one-year revocation.
Should You Refuse and Can It Be Used Against You in Other Ways?
In most cases, there is no clear benefit to refusing to submit to a chemical test when you are arrested for a DUI. At most, you might want to refuse a roadside breathalyzer and only submit to a chemical test back at the station – this does not count as a complete refusal and cannot revoke your license based on this action alone. Yes, the penalties for a first-time DUI could be worse than a one-year license suspension, but no, the refusal does not automatically mean you will avoid a conviction.
In fact, the prosecution might try to use your refusal as evidence against you in any court trial that could arise from your arrest. In the past, prosecutors have tried to suggest that someone’s lack of cooperation hints at an unspoken sense of guilt or admission of a crime. This, however, is clearly not solid, scientific evidence and can be challenged by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Actually, anything the prosecution throws at you can be defied if you protect yourself with a clever and reputable Miami DUI attorney, such as myself. I, Attorney Jonathan Blecher, have been shielding the rights of the arrested and the accused from the overly-harsh penalties of DUI convictions for more than 30 years. In my experience, I have learned numerous strategies to defend my clients, including challenging the validity of your arrest and the accuracy of any chemical testing devices.