If you are arrested for DUI in Florida, and are charged or accused of refusing to take the breath test, you can face increased penalties in your DUI case. Hiring competent attorneys who are familiar with both the administrative and criminal procedures for this accusation can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
What is a DUI breath test refusal?
A refusal is just that. If you are arrested for DUI, and you refuse to take a breath test, it is called a “refusal.” Sometimes the officer will charge you with refusing even if you take the test if he or she feels you in some way tried to affect the result. This can mean that the officer feels you didn’t actually blow into the machine, or that you tried to tampered with the result in some other way.
What do you mean when you say there are administrative and criminal penalties for a refusal?
A DUI refusal carries both “administrative” penalties through the DMV and criminal penalties. The two systems are separate from one another. Any action taken against you by the DMV is called “administrative.” Any action taken by the court is part of the criminal case.
What is the administrative penalty for refusing to blow?
Administratively, if the officer accuses you of refusing to take a breath test at the time of your DUI arrest, the DMV can take your license away whether you are criminally charged or not.
If it is the first time that you refuse to blow, the DMV will issue a one year suspension of your license. It is an eighteen month suspension if you have refused more than once.
How do I challenge the refusal with the DMV?
Just because the officer accused you of refusing to blow, it does not mean they are correct. And even if they are correct, you may still have a valid defense. If you wish to challenge the refusal you MUST contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest. The DMV will then schedule a hearing for you to contest the accusation.
Can you represent me at the DMV hearing?
Absolutely! The attorneys of Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins have years of experience in defending clients against the DMV. We are happy to discuss any and all defenses you may have to your refusal suspension.
What are the criminal penalties for a refusal?
If it is your first refusal, the State will try to use it in two ways.
First the State will try to enhance your penalties. For instance, if it is your first DUI and you refuse to blow, they will ask the judge to suspend your license for one year instead of six months. Or the State may ask for additional public service hours over and above the 50 required by law.
Second, if you go to trial, the State will try to use the refusal as “consciousness of guilt.” That means they will argue you did not blow because you knew you were too drunk to drive.
If it is your second refusal (or more) then it is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail. This means you can receive an extra year of jail or probation in addition to any sanctions you receive for your DUI if you are found guilty of both.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you are accused of refusing to blow it is very important that you contact an attorney who has experience with DUI cases at the administrative and criminal level. At Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins our attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to properly represent you. Administrative hearings are conducted differently than criminal hearings. Do not take a chance! Any moment you delay can cost you your license. Call the aggressive attorneys of Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins now at 1-888-781-9696 to preserve your rights.