What is Florida’s Implied Consent Law?

November 30, 2021 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI

In Florida, the Implied Consent Law discusses how and during which situations law enforcement can request and administer breathalyzer, urine analyses, and in some situations, blood tests during DUI investigations in order to determine an individual’s blood-alcohol level or level of impairment.

The Statute – Section 316.1932 of the Florida Statute

Florida’s Implied Consent Law is codified in Section 316.1932 of the Florida Statutes and states that any person who accepts the privilege of driving in the state has given their implied consent to submit to any lawful requests for a breath test, urine test, or blood tests (in some circumstances) in order to determine the person’s blood-alcohol level or level of driving impairment.

Implied Consent Refusal Penalties

Refusing to comply with Florida’s Implied Consent Law can result in harsh and severe consequences.

For the first refusal, you can have your driver’s license suspended for one year.

For the second refusal, you can have your driver’s license suspended for eighteen months. Additionally, it is a criminal offense classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail/a year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. Furthermore, refusal to submit to DUI investigation testing is seen as admissible evidence against you during any criminal proceeding.

What Does Implied Consent Include?

Breathalyzer Test

The scope of the Implied Consent Law includes breathalyzers or breath tests. But these breath tests have to be incidental to a lawful stop for driving under the influence and conducted at the request of a police officer who has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just because a police officer administers a breath test does not mean that another type of test cannot be administered as well.

Blood Test

Under Florida law, there are three situations in which law enforcement can request or order a blood test of someone suspected of driving under the influence. These circumstances are:

  1. A Breathalyzer/Urine Analysis is Not Possible or Impracticable

Section 316.1932(1)(c) of the Florida Statutes states that someone operating a motor vehicle in Florida is believed to have given their consent to a blood test “if there is reasonable cause to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages . . . and the person appears for treatment at a hospital, clinic or other medical facility and the administration of a breath test is impractical or impossible.”

  1. The Officer Has Probable Cause to Believe the Suspect’s Driving Under the Influence Has Caused a Death or Serious Bodily Injury

Under Section 316.1932(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes, a blood test can also be ordered, by reasonable force if seen as needed, if the police officer has probable cause to think “that a motor vehicle driven by or in the actual physical control of a person under the influence of alcoholic beverages . . . has caused the death or serious bodily injury of a human being.” So, if there is probable cause to think a driver is intoxicated, and their intoxication resulted in death or bodily injury, a blood test will be seen as mandatory.

  1. The Suspect Driver Gives Their Voluntary Consent to a Blood Test

According to the Fourth District Court of Appeal decision Chu v. State, even if a DUI does not result in death, serious bodily injury, or a breath test or urine test is not impossible or impractical, a law enforcement officer can still request that a suspected DUI driver agree freely to a blood test if they consent voluntarily. But, in order for the consent to be seen as voluntary and free, the police officer has to fully inform the driver that the implied consent law mandates submission only to a urine analysis or breathalyzer and that the blood test is an alternative.

Urine Analysis

Florida’s Implied Consent law covers urine tests as well. These tests are used to identify the presence of drugs or chemicals in the human body. The urine test has to also be incidental to a lawful DUI stop and administered after arrest at a facility equipped to administer urine tests. Additionally, the law enforcement officer requesting the urine test has to have reasonable cause to believe that the suspected person was driving or in control of a motor vehicle in Florida while under the influence of drugs or chemicals.

Implied Consent Defenses

There are many defenses available to combat the Implied Consent Law or to fight against a refusal. Some common defenses include:

  • No Probable Cause for the Initial Stop
  • No Probable Cause for the Testing
  • No Violation of Law Justifying Traffic Stop
  • No Refusal by Defendant
  • Improper Statement of Implied Consent Warning
  • No Implied Consent Warning
  • No Probable Cause that Defendant was Driving or in Control of Vehicle
  • No/Invalid Consent
  • The Presence of Illegal Threats or Promises to Comply
  • Inaccurate Statements of the Law
  • For Blood Tests:
    • Breath or Urine Test Not Impossible or Impractical
    • No Probable Cause that Defendant Caused Death or Bodily Injury

Tallahassee DUI Defense Attorney

The Implied Consent Law is the most important and least-known law in the realm of DUI criminal defense. It is an essential component of DUI defense and can come with severe consequences if you or a loved one is refusing a test or is uninformed regarding your rights surrounding the law. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, or for a refusal to submit to testing, retain a knowledgeable and experienced Tallahassee DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to explore your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have been defending Floridians against DUI and refusal to submit charges for decades and will fight vigorously for your freedom. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your case during an open and free consultation.

 This article was written by Gabi D’Esposito

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