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Can I refuse a sobriety test for a DUI?

If you are pulled over for driving under the influence, you may be wondering what your rights are under Florida law. Refusing to take a sobriety test may have crossed your mind.

If you are in the state of Florida, you have already given up the right to refuse a breath, blood or urine test. Florida is an “implied consent” state, which means that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer with probable cause that you were driving under the influence, you have already consented to a chemical test. That includes the possibility of repeat tests.

You can incur penalties if you refuse. The officer should tell you that if you refuse, your license will be suspended and your refusal can be used against you in court. If you have had your license suspended for refusing a chemical test before, the second refusal counts as a misdemeanor. The first test refusal is a one-year suspension and subsequent refusals are an 18-month suspension.

Chemical tests vs. field sobriety tests

It is worth noting that the law does not state any penalties for refusing a field sobriety test. While the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has developed a standardized manual on field sobriety tests, these tests can often be subjective. A breath, blood or urine test is less gray. If you believe a field sobriety test could inaccurately determine you were driving under the influence, you can refuse and request a chemical test instead.

Knowing your rights can help you if facing the possibility of serious charges. If you have concerns about what your rights are or aren’t when charged with a DUI in Florida, seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney who works on DUI cases and can help you navigate the charges.

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