Florida is one of the few states left where you can still be criminally penalized for refusing a breath or blood test at a traffic stop. In other states, you may face administrative penalties for such a refusal, but you wouldn’t go to jail.
What is implied consent?
Under the implied consent law, drivers are required to consent to a breath, blood or urine test if a police officer suspects that they are intoxicated. Though other police searches require a search warrant or the suspect’s express consent, implied consent at traffic stops is different.
If you refuse a sobriety test when a police officer asks you to submit to one, your license will be suspended and you could face criminal penalties. You may also face a DUI charge for the incident.
What about field sobriety tests?
The state of Florida does not require drivers to submit to a field sobriety test. You may refuse this test when asked to perform it without facing any administrative or criminal penalties. However, refusal to submit to a chemical BAC test will result in:
- Automatic 12-month driver’s license suspension for a first offense
- Automatic 18-month driver’s license suspension for a second offense
- Possible misdemeanor criminal charge
If you are charged with a misdemeanor for refusing a sobriety test, the penalties could be as much as one year in jail as well as a $1,000 fine.
Should you still refuse?
Refusing to submit to sobriety testing does not mean that you won’t face DUI charges. In fact, a judge could view your refusal as further evidence that you were intoxicated. If the prosecution has no other evidence against you, though, disobeying the implied consent law may not be enough evidence to prosecute you.