Florida Leads the Nation in Breathalyzer Refusals: Is It Wise or Unwise to Refuse?

According to a recent 2016 study released by SmartAsset, Florida drivers are ranked as the worst in the nation. One of the reasons Florida ranks so highly is its DUI arrest rate, which is 4.45 DUI arrests per 1,000 drivers.

Even so, Florida’s number of DUI arrests is actually lower than other states, but Florida also leads the nation for breathalyzer refusals. While drinking and driving is clearly an unwise action that can lead to legal consequences, that is a separate question from whether it is wise to refuse a breathalyzer.

Taking current Florida law into account, there are plenty of reasons why refusing a breathalyzer may make sense.

Florida Law on Breathalyzer Refusal

According to a 2014 report compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida drivers refused sobriety tests at a staggering refusal rate of 82 percent.

This finding is perhaps more alarming when paired with the fact that Florida has an Implied Consent Law that leads to a mandatory 12-month license suspension for anyone who refuses to submit to a sobriety test such as a breathalyzer. Cooperative drivers, on the other hand, receive just a 6-month suspension if they blow into the test and test higher than the state’s .08 legal limit for driving.

While this discrepancy may seem to suggest that Floridians should always cooperate, this is not necessarily true. There are actually good reasons to refuse a breathalyzer test depending on the factors involved.

For example, Florida law allows both drivers who submit to tests and those who refuse them to qualify for a hardship license that gets drivers back on the road within a few days, according to Section 322.271 of The 2016 Florida Statutes.

Even though there is an additional six months of license suspension for drivers who refuse a test, they receive the same hardship license benefits with the added distinction of providing Florida law enforcement with less evidence to use against them in a DUI case.

For this reason, it is generally in a driver’s best interests to refuse a field sobriety test so long as the current Florida law continues to exist in its current state.

No matter whether you submitted to a breathalyzer test or refused, talk to Destin DUI defense attorney John F. Greene if you have been charged with driving under the influence in Florida.

From his office in Destin, John represents individuals accused of driving under the influence in Northwest Florida, including Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay and Okaloosa Counties. John also represents individuals in the communities of Destin, Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City and Santa Rosa Beach.

If you need a criminal defense lawyer who will fight to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed, contact John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833.


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