Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer or Field Sobriety Test in Florida?

Florida law prevents people suspected of drunken driving from refusing to take a blood-alcohol test. While Florida and at least a dozen states overall make such a refusal a crime, the Supreme Court has recently expressed its doubts on the constitutionality of these laws.

Supreme Court justices heard arguments in April of 2016 that challenged Minnesota and North Dakota laws that are substantially similar to Florida’s law preventing the refusal of a blood alcohol test. The challenge is based on the idea that citizens are not allowed to refuse a test for alcohol in the driver’s urine, breath or blood, even if the police have not obtained a search warrant.

The drivers who have been prosecuted under these Minnesota and North Dakota laws claim such laws violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Minnesota and North Dakota’s state supreme courts upheld these laws, however, which is why the matter is now being taken on by the United States Supreme Court.

The justices asked the attorneys representing the states in these cases why they could not just obtain a warrant when a blood alcohol test was deemed necessary. Justice Breyer, for example, pointed to data indicating it takes a mere five minutes to get a warrant in Wyoming and 15 minutes in Montana. State attorneys argued drivers consent to alcohol tests as a condition toward enjoying the privilege of driving on state roads. Other state attorneys argue it would be too burdensome to seek a warrant every time, citing rural areas that may only have one judge on call.

While the debate was heated, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Minnesota case held that the Minnesota law did not violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment that bars unreasonable searches and seizures. As such, this decision may help put Florida’s fight over DUI legislation to rest.

Florida Law Prevents Drivers Suspected of Drinking and Driving From Refusing to Take an Alcohol Blood Test

In Florida, there are stiff consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer test. Florida uses an implied consent law (Florida Statutes § 316.1932) that states a lawful arrest by an officer with probable cause to believe a driver has been drinking requires the driver’s consent to a BAC test. Florida law also gives law enforcement the authority to have a driver take more than one test if needed.If an officer first administers a breath test, they may follow that test with another test, which the driver may not refuse without penalty.

If the Supreme Court ruling helps ensure Florida BAC test laws remain unchanged, the penalties for a BAC test refusal are as follows:

  • A first refusal leads to a one-year driver’s license suspension
  • A second offense leads to a suspension of 18 months
  • Second and subsequent offenses result in 18-month license suspension plus the possibility of misdemeanor criminal charges, such as time in jail

If you have been accused of a misdemeanor crime of refusing to submit to a Florida BAC test, Destin DUI defense attorney John F. Greene is ready to help. From his office in Destin, John represents Destin defendants accused of refusing a DUI as well as defendants throughout Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast, including Okaloosa, Bay, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties. John also represents defendants in the Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Panama City communities.

Contact John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833 to receive the legal counsel of a DUI defense attorney who will work to have your BAC refusal charges reduced or dismissed.


Web Design & Production by Vinci Digital Marketing