Can Florida drivers refuse a breath test during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | DUI

People may get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) during any traffic stop. Police officers who stop drivers for excess speed or failing to use a turn signal may eventually be suspected of alcohol or chemical intoxication. Once an officer believes someone may be under the influence where their normal faculties are impaired, they start trying to gather compelling evidence in order to be used against the driver. They may ask very specific questions about their conduct before driving or in some cases, an officer may ask individuals to exit their vehicle to perform field sobriety exercises to dispel any fears they may have to operate a motor vehicle safely. An arrest occurs once the officer makes a determination based on the totality of the circumstances.

In Southwest Florida the Intoxilyzer or breath test is located at the jail and is not on scene where the arrest takes place. This machine is used to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the motorist. The police may also administer a urinalysis if the driver provides 0.00.

Anyone who refuses to provide a lawful sample of their breath or fails one by providing a sample over the limit of .08 faces an administrative penalty with their license and in some instances a misdemeanor.

Florida has an implied consent law

There are limits to what police officers can do to gather evidence of criminal activity. Individuals typically have protection from unreasonable searches, including demands to provide chemical samples in many cases. A police officer cannot force someone to perform an exercise if they refuse to provide a breath sample after a traffic stop.

However, driving is a privilege subject to numerous restrictions. State law includes a statute declaring that those who drive on public roadways have already given their implied consent to chemical testing during a lawful DUI arrest. There are consequences for refusing to provide a sample of your breath or urine when requested.

Provided that a police officer has the necessary grounds to take someone into custody, they can request a sample of your breath in ways that are particularly consequential. A driver refusing to provide a breath sample may still end up arrested for a DUI. They may also face secondary consequences for violating the implied consent statute. A license suspension is the standard penalty for someone who refuses chemical testing during a lawful DUI arrest. Police officers can testify at a DUI trial about someone’s refusal to undergo testing.

Know your rights at a traffic stop

Drivers who are aware of their rights and the limitations on their driving privileges may have an easier time responding to a DUI traffic stop. Learning more about Florida’s impaired driving laws may benefit those who regularly enjoy alcohol and want to remain compliant with state statutes. Please call the office of Lee Viacava with any questions you may have.