How Florida’s Implied Consent Law Impacts Drivers
As part of the privilege of driving, Florida drivers are expected to adhere to the state’s implied consent law. This law obligates drivers to submit to specific types of testing for drugs or alcohol. This applies specifically in cases where the driver has been lawfully arrested for DUI and the test has been requested by a police officer.
Failure to comply with the implied consent law may result in penalties that include suspension of driver’s license and fines. In some cases, an individual may face jail time for failing to consent to testing.
When does implied consent apply?
The implied consent law falls under Florida’s “state uniform traffic control” codes. It applies in the context of suspected drunk driving cases and arrests made in those cases. The law stipulates that anyone who operates a motor vehicle in the state must submit to approved chemical or physical tests in the event of DUI arrest.
Penalties for Refusing a Test Covered Under Implied Consent
Refusing to submit to an approved test – as administered in an appropriate setting and under the prescribed circumstances – carries serious penalties. A police officer should ensure that a DUI suspect is made aware of the potential consequences for failing to submit to approved tests.
The penalties for first-time and repeat offenders are outlined below:
- first refusal – driver’s license suspension for one year; and
- second refusal – considered a first-degree misdemeanor, driver’s license suspension for 18 months, up one year in jail, and up to $1,000 in fines.
The refusal to submit to a chemical or physical test in conjunction with a lawful DUI arrest may be used as evidence in any related criminal proceedings.
How and When Chemical and Physical Tests are Administered
State-approved tests – which can include certain breath or urine tests – are used to determine the blood alcohol content of the driver involved. The legal limit for Florida drivers is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08. Tests that suggest a BAC exceeding the legal limit may be used as evidence in a drunk driving case.
Being subjected to one type of test does not preclude any other type of test from being performed. This means a DUI suspect may be asked to submit to a breath test in the field only to be asked to submit to a urine test later on at the police station.
Breath or urine tests that are covered under the umbrella of implied consent must occur in connection with a lawful DUI arrest. They also must be ordered by a police officer who has reasonable cause to believe the DUI suspect was operating under the influence of alcohol at the time of arrest.
Special Considerations for Blood Tests
Florida law and legal precedent have outlined a few circumstances under which blood tests are covered under the bounds of implied consent including:
- when a DUI suspect consents to the test in lieu of or in addition to a breath and/or urine test;
- when a breath or urine test is impractical or impossible; and
- when there is probable cause to indicate a DUI has caused serious injury or death.
If you have been arrested for DUI or face penalties for failing to submit to tests covered under Florida’s implied consent law, speak to a defense attorney. Call 877-663-5110.