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What if I am charged with breath test refusal in Florida?

The laws in Florida can be confusing especially in a situation in which law enforcement is asking for a breath test to be taken. Some might believe that they have the right to refuse like the "right to remain silent" in the reading of the rights when arrested. They might then make the mistake of refusing a breath test and find themselves charged for it. Under the law, drivers are obligated to submit to the test. This is known as implied consent. For those who commit breath test refusal, there are certain penalties they will face.

When asked by law enforcement to submit to a physical or chemical test of breath, blood or urine, a driver who had a prior suspension of driving privileges for refusal to submit to the test might be confronted with a misdemeanor in the first degree. With this charge and a conviction, the person will be subjected to a potential jail sentence of up to one year or a fine of up to $1,000.

There are other factors that must be present in addition to the refusal. They include: the arresting officer having had probable cause to believe the person was driving or controlling the vehicle while under the influence; the driver was arrested for DUI; the driver was told that a breath test refusal would result in a driver's license suspension of one year or, if it is a second refusal, 18 months; the driver was told that a refusal after the license had been previously suspended for breath test refusal would be a misdemeanor; and the driver still refused to take the test after having been informed of this.

Being arrested for DUI is problematic with the possibility of jail time, a driver's license suspension, fines and other issues that accompany a conviction. Drivers who compound a DUI with a breath test refusal leave themselves vulnerable to other charges that can magnify a DUI charge and make it worse. When arrested after breath test refusal, having legal help is essential. A lawyer who has helped clients with many DUI and traffic offenses can be of assistance in handling the case.

Source: leg.state.fl.us, "316.1939 Refusal to submit to testing; penalties.," accessed on April 2, 2018

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