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Understanding what happens when you say no to a chemical test

In a post last week, our blog touched on the notion that states typically treat driving as a privilege, such that motorists forfeit certain rights or provide their indirect permission for certain actions to be taken by law enforcement officials.

By way of illustration, consider Florida's implied consent law, which essentially declares that anyone holding a driver's license has essentially already given their consent to submit to breath, urine or blood tests to determine their blood alcohol level in the event an officer has placed them under arrest for driving under the influence.  

In light of this reality, it's important to understand a bit more about what happens when you refuse to provide your consent to these breath, urine or blood tests.

As we stated above, Florida's implied consent law comes into effect when an officer has placed you under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.

Specifically, the officer will inform you after the DUI arrest that they are requesting one of the aforementioned chemical tests and then proceed to outline the potential consequences of your refusal to submit, including:

  • Your refusal can be used against you in any subsequent criminal proceedings.
  • If you are refusing to submit to a chemical test for the first time, this will result in an automatic license suspension of one year.
  • If you are refusing to submit to a chemical test for the second or subsequent time, this will result in an automatic license suspension of 18 months and that the refusal will be treated as a misdemeanor.

We will continue to discuss what happens when you refuse to submit to a chemical test in our next post, exploring the criminal consequences for a refusal versus the criminal consequences of a DUI conviction.

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