What if I decline the breath test during a DUI traffic stop?
By Jonathan Blecher on May 10, 2022
The result of a breath, blood or urine test often is the strongest piece of evidence in a DUI case. But when it comes to the breath test, at least, the police cannot make you take one without your consent. So what happens if you refuse to take the test? Could the officer have to let you go?
Informed consent and DUI breath tests
It isn’t that simple. Like many states, Florida has an implied consent law for drivers. By having a Florida driver’s license and driving in the state, by implication, you have already consented to undergo a blood-alcohol content test whenever a police officer orders you to.
The police cannot physically force you to take a breath test during a traffic stop. But if you decline, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. Also, your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court. And if you are caught driving with a suspended license due to a prior breath test refusal, and you refuse a test during that second traffic stop, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
However, the implied consent law does not cover field sobriety tests like the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn test. There is no legal penalty for refusing to perform those.
Know the law before you act
Whether you submit to a breath test during a traffic stop is up to you. But now that you know the possible consequences of refusing, you can make an informed choice.