Implied Consent in Florida
If you ever get pulled over on suspicion of a DUI in Florida, you might be shocked to learn that you have already consented to physical and chemical testing to determine whether you are too impaired to drive. You might have heard from a Florida DUI lawyer that you should not blow into a breathalyser, but the police will try to convince you that you have to and your license will be suspended if you don’t comply. This happens because Florida law says that you consented to the testing. Normally, when you consent to something, you know that you did so. You actually said “yes” to something. Under Florida DUI law, your consent to testing is implied. It can be stated as “We, the government, grant you the privilege of driving on the roads in Florida and in exchange you agree to be tested for alcohol at any time we choose to test you.” The problem is that there was no real exchange or bargain. The government never actually told you that. The government wrote something into law that benefits itself and made the bargain for you.
You do not have to look very far to understand why the government would do such a thing. Florida DUI lawyers tell you not to blow into a breathalyser because it is harder to convict you of a DUI if you refuse the test. The government likes convictions. The implied consent laws are the government’s way of punishing you for refusing to help them convict you of a crime. They are very popular in the United States because no politician ever lost office for being tougher on DUIs.
Implied consent laws, however, are not fair. In other areas of the law, it is not your duty to help the government convict you of a crime. You undoubtedly know about the 5th Amendment and the right against self-incrimination. It does not apply in this case because the government of Florida says that suspending your driver’s license for failing to take a breathalyser test is not criminal, it’s an administrative punishment. In other words up is down, down is up. It makes no difference what it is called if the result is the same.
Of course, as a Florida DUI lawyer, I still say that you should not blow into a breathalyser if you have been drinking anything at all. Yes, your driver’s license will be suspended if you do not. It will be suspended anyway if you are convicted of a DUI in Florida. The only difference is how long your license will be suspended. If something is going to happen anyway, why help make it easier for other bad things to happen to you? If you area convicted of a DUI, you have to pay a fine. You might face jail time. You will have to go to special DUI classes to learn about how bad your actions were. Having a criminal conviction on your record is much worse than merely having your license suspended. Here is the good news. Lets say you refuse the breath test and spend the night in jail. If your video looks good, there is an excellent change a good DUI lawyer can get the criminal DUI charges tossed out, or at least reduced to a traffic charge like reckless driving. We can also go to the Administrative Hearing and try and get you your drivers license back. That means that it is very possible you will NOT have your drivers license suspended. Even if it is, we can almost always get our clients a work permit. This way you can drive to work, school, church etc. You just can drive to the movies or the bar.
I am not saying that it is OK to drink and drive. It isn’t. You should not drink and drive. That does not make Forida’s implied consent laws fair. Unfortunately, an unfair law is still the law. You do consent to a breathalyser by driving on the roads in Florida. Be aware of the consequences of refusing a breathalyser, but refuse it anyway unless you want to be convicted. And call us ASAP to fight back for your right to drive.