Should You Blow When Pulled Over for Suspected DUI?
As we approach the holidays, it is important to talk about the dangers of drinking and driving. The holidays often mark an uptick in DUIs issued by law enforcement given the whirlwind of parties and other social events that accompany the season. Drinking and driving is always a bad idea, and the consequences can be severe: you can lose your license, and someone can lose their life.
One of the most common questions defense attorneys are asked by their friends, family, and clients is whether or not to blow if you are pulled over by law enforcement on suspicion of DUI. Unfortunately, the answer is never a clear cut “yes” or “no,” because the circumstances of every case are different. As a lawyer I cannot (and I won’t) advise anyone to disobey the law, but given my training an experience with DUIs and the machine you blow into – the Intoxilyzer 8000 (no joke) – I would not blow under any circumstance. That’s just me though – not legal advice in any way. Having said that, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you ever find yourself in this situation.
Consenting to a Breathalyzer (or other field sobriety exercise) is the Law in Florida.
In Florida, when you received your driver’s license, you agreed to take a breathalyzer test if a law enforcement officer requests you do so. Florida, like most states, sees a driver’s license as a privilege, not a right. And part of having that privilege is agreeing to be breathalyzed upon request. If you do not consent to take a breathalyzer when requested to do so by law enforcement, your license may be suspended and you may be subject to additional criminal charges.
If you do consent to be breathalyzed and blow over a .08, the legal blood alcohol content limit in Florida, your license will be suspended and you can face additional criminal charges. Even if you blow under the legal limit, the law enforcement officer may ask you for a urine sample and will test it for alcohol content. If you submit to this urine sample, your license will not be suspended pending the results of the test, however if you do refuse to submit to the urine sample your license will be suspended. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Your License Could be Suspended For Up to One Year.
If you blow over the legal limit, you will have an automatic 6 month license suspension, and if you refuse to blow you will have an automatic one year license suspension. Both of these suspensions can be appealed by your attorney, however, but it is important to know that if your appeal is not successful you will be subject to a 30 to 90 day license suspension, depending on whether or not you agreed to be breathalyzed. Most important to know is that Florida recently changed the number of days you have to appeal the automatic suspension from 30 to 10. So regardless of whether you blow, don’t blow, blow over the limit, you have 10 days to file your notice of intent to appeal the suspension. Until the appeal has been heard, your driving privileges are still good.
Generally, the license suspension penalties are less severe for someone who blows, however the subsequent criminal penalties are something to consider. If you blow under a .16, the criminal penalties are usually less severe, especially if you have no prior record. However, if you blow a .16 or higher you will likely face more severe consequences. Again, an experienced defense attorney can help you mitigate or appeal these consequences, but only you can make the choice about whether or not to blow.
If you have been charged with DUI, or are facing charges for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, your first call should be to Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC. Our experienced Miami criminal defense attorneys know that everyone makes mistakes and have helped many clients appeal their DUI charges and criminal sentences. Contact us today.
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