For a lot of drivers, what they learned about driving under the influence (DUI) stops, they gleaned from TV and the movies. In my experience, the average driver doesn’t know much about Florida’s DUI laws, but that’s not just the case in Florida, that’s the case across the nation. Few people have a firm grasp of their state’s DUI laws and that’s not surprising.
During a DUI stop, several things are going to happen. For one, the law enforcement officer is going to ask the driver to step outside of their vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are conducted roadside and they are “divided attention tests,” which are difficult even for sober people to perform with flying colors. These tests are not legally-required and there is no penalty for “politely” refusing. The second type of test is the chemical test, which I’m going to explain in more detail below.
Chemical Tests: Pre-Arrest vs. Post-Arrest
After an officer asks a suspect to perform the field sobriety tests, the officer will ask the driver to take a chemical test. First, the officer will ask the person to take a pre-arrest breath test, which is performed during the DUI stop. Typically, this involves having the driver blow into a handheld breathalyzer machine. Is this test legally-required? No, not if the driver is asked to blow into the device before the DUI arrest.
However, if you say “no” to the pre-arrest breath test, the officer can still arrest you for DUI and take you down to the station for a post-arrest chemical test in the form of a blood, breath or urine test. If you refuse to take the post-arrest chemical test, there WILL be adverse consequences. Why? Because, under Florida’s “implied consent law,” drivers are presumed to give their consent to a chemical test if they are suspected of DUI. So, if you’re arrested for DUI, taken down to the station and asked to take a chemical test and you refuse, you will face an automatic one-year driver license suspension. A second or subsequent refusal to take a chemical test is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
“Do I have to take a chemical test?” You can say “no,” but if you do, you’ll face a driver's license suspension, even if you had nothing to drink. That’s something you have to consider. If you say “yes,” you can fight your DUI charge or if you qualify, enroll in the Back on Track Program. If you have further questions about chemical tests, contact me today.