The Pros and Cons of Taking a Sobriety Test
After an arrest for driving under the influence an officer typically will request that a person provide a breath sample for the purpose of determine the level of alcohol in one’s body. A person may also be requested to provide a urine sample instead of a breath sample or in addition to a breath sample.
The Consequences of Refusal
A person may choose to refuse to provide a breath sample or a urine sample, but if you refuse to provide a breath or urine sample there will be certain consequences. The first will be that your license will be suspended for a period of 12 months. This license suspension is an administrative suspension through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This suspension is six months longer than the suspension administratively imposed by the DHSMV when a person has a breath alcohol level that is above the legal limit of 0.08.
Just because you do not provide a breath sample does not mean that you cannot be charged with driving under the influence or that the State Attorney’s Office won’t be able to prove a DUI case against you. A DUI can be proven two ways— first, if a person has a breath alcohol level of over 0.08, and second, if a person’s normal faculties were impaired by the effects of a chemical substances or controlled substance.
A refusal to provide a breath sample can be used against you as evidence in a criminal case for driving under the influence. Generally, the argument is a consciousness of guilt argument—a prosecutor cannot say that an innocent person would have provided a sample or that by failing to provide a sample the person failed to prove they weren’t under the influence because that would be shifting the burden of proof unto the defendant.
In a criminal case, the state of Florida has the burden of proof to prove each element of the crime they charged beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. However, the consciousness of guilt argument is essentially that you did not provide a sample because you knew the result would not be good. It’s the same reason you don’t run and jump on the bathroom scale right after Thanksgiving dinner—because you don’t want to see the result.
Finally, if you refuse to provide a sample to a chemical test (breath or urine) and you have a prior refusal, then you may be charged with an additional offense. For a person’s first refusal, there is 12-month license administrative license suspension. For a second refusal, the administrative license suspension is 18 months long. With a second refusal suspension you will not be eligible to a hardship or business purpose license, which means literally 18 months no driving.
Also since the suspension is based on the refusal to provide a sample to the requested test, even if you are found not guilty on the underlying DUI charge, the 18-month suspension will still stand through the DHSMV.
For a second refusal to request to provide a breath of urine sample, an additional misdemeanor offense may be charged. The maximum punishment for a refusal to submit to a chemical test is up to 1 year in the county jail and up to a $1,000 fine, whereas the max incarceration for a first offense DUI is 6 months in jail and a second offense is punishable by up to 9 months in the county jail.
Call Meldon Law If You Face DUI Charges
Whether you are charged with driving under the influence and refused to provide a breath or urine sample or if you have been charged with driving under the influence as well as the additional charge of refusal, you need a law firm that has the knowledge and experience to defend you. Call the Meldon Law Firm at 800-373-8000 to schedule a free consultation.