Fort Lauderdale DUI Refusal: Know Your Rights & Legal Consequences
In Florida, more than 40% of DUI cases involve a refusal to submit to a lawful test requested by a law enforcement officer after an arrest. Depending on the circumstances, the officer can request a breath test, blood test or urine test. People have a lot of different reasons to refuse testing. Some people feel the law enforcement officer is unfair and do not trust that the test will be administered fairly. For other people, they believe that not taking the test will help them resolve the accusations more favorably.
No matter the reason for the refusal, it comes with several pros and cons. The benefits of refusing to submit include denying the prosecutor the most important evidence that might exist in the case and the ability to charge the “per se” version of DUI. Instead, the prosecutor must prove that you drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that the alcohol or drugs impaired your normal faculties. Most importantly, recent statistics in Florida show that a person who refuses testing if far more likely to avoid a DUI conviction on both a pre-trial and after-trial basis.
The cons include a more extended period for the administrative suspension (assuming the suspension is not invalidated during a formal review hearing that can be requested within 10 days of the arrest).
Attorney for DUI Refusal in Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, FL
If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Ft. Lauderdale or the surrounding areas of Broward County, FL, contact an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell. We represent clients on various types of DUI cases, from a first offense to a felony charge for a repeat offense.
The criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell represent clients in Broward County courts, including in Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Coconut Creek, Margate, Tamarac, Weston, Deerfield Beach, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie, Pompano Beach, Coral Springs, Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines.
Consequences for Refusing DUI Testing
If you drive on the roads in Florida or obtain a Florida driver’s license, you agree to submit to a lawfully requested breath test after a DUI arrest. To be lawfully arrested, the officer must have probable cause that you were driving under the influence or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
In fact, every Florida driver’s license now says: “Operator of a motor vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test required by law.” It is impossible for an officer to “force” you to take a breath test. Instead, if you refuse, then Florida law provides for several adverse consequences, including:
- The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will impose a one-year administrative suspension for a first refusal, or if your driving record shows that you have ever refused to test before, then the Florida DMV will impose an 18-month suspension. The only way to avoid that administrative suspension is to file a demand for a formal review hearing at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office within 10 days after the arrest. At the hearing, you can move to invalidate the suspense if the arresting officer or breath test operator fails to appear or if other problems can be shown.
- The fact that you refuse a lawfully requested breath, blood, or urine test can be used against you in the DUI case. The prosecutor can argue that the refusal itself shows that the driver was “conscious of guilt.”
- For a second refusal, you can be charged with a crime, a first-degree misdemeanor for the second refusal under Florida Statute Section 316.1939. The second refusal charge is separate and independent from the underlying DUI charge for which you were first arrested.
Finding an Attorney for a Refusal DUI Case in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
If you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Ft. Lauderdale or the surrounding areas of Broward County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell. Our attorneys represent clients throughout South Florida from our offices in Ft. Lauderdale. We represent clients from a first DUI through a second or subsequent offense. We are experienced in resolving cases involving several aggravating factors, such as a DUI with property damage, a child passenger under 18 years old, or a BAC of .15 or more.
Call us to discuss your case. We can represent you through each stage of the case, from the formal review hearing at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). We also represent our clients during each stage of the criminal case, from the arraignment through the pre-trial motions through a bench or jury trial. Call today to discuss your case.
Our DUI defense attorneys represent men and women charged with both misdemeanor and felony offenses in the courtrooms in Broward County after a DUI arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Coconut Creek, Margate, Tamarac, Weston, Deerfield Beach, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie, Pompano Beach, Coral Springs, Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines.