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Understanding Florida’s implied consent laws

Some might think that the first step towards contesting potential drunk driving charges may be to refuse sobriety testing after having been pulled over by law enforcement officials in Naples. Many may be surprised at the consequences of such a decision. According to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1 million people were arrested in the U.S. for driving under the influence. Some of those arrests may have been the direct results of people refusing sobriety testing. Most believe that something as seemingly simple as inaction would not result in an arrest; how is, then, that one can be arrested for refusing a breath test? 

Florida has enacted legislation that empowers law enforcement authorities to enforce sobriety testing with the threat of an arrest. This is known as the state’s “implied consent law”; its details can be found in Section 316.1932 of Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Code. Here, it states that by accepting the privilege of driving, one consents to submit to chemical or physical testing to prove whether or not they were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Such an arrest is lawful of the law enforcement officer involved has reasonable cause to believe that the driver is drunk. 

The mere act of refusing to take a breath test can not only result in one being arrested but can also lead to a license suspension. Such a suspension can be imposed independent of the result of a drunk driving case. The first time one refuses a breath test, their license can be suspended for up to a year. Any subsequent refusals can result in a suspension of 18 months. 

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