If you don’t blow into the breathalyzer, and if you don’t submit to invasive testing to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood or urine, there is no hard evidence that you were drunk. The trade-off for refusing to incriminate yourself by refusing to be tested is that under Florida’s Implied Consent law, you will lose your driving privilege. Furthermore, your refusal can be used as evidence at trial of your knowledge of your guilt. So you may feel that you’re between a rock and a hard place. In fact, the Implied Consent law is a run-around o the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that protects you from self-incrimination. The suspension of your license for either refusal to blow or blowing .08 or higher is an administrative function, separate from the criminal case. You might be even acquitted of DUI charges but still have your license suspended!
The machine used to analyze your breathe for alcohol content in Florida, brand name Intoxilizer 8000, is not what you’d call state-of-the-art technology. It is actually pretty old school. The technology dates back to the 1950s. Police departments keep them around for years, sending them back to the company for repairs as needed. Many of these machines have been around the block a few times too many and simply don’t work properly. And here’s a piece of information on the Intoxilizer 8000 that will blow you away: the manufacturer’s warranty is only for 90 days! And even more amazing, the warranty specifically states that the machine is not warranted for any particular purpose! In other words, even the breathalyzer’s manufacturer is not willing to stand behind the accuracy of their product. This is the machine that destroys people’s lives, often taking away their livelihood and robbing them of their reputation and their freedom!
Having a savvy DUI attorney on your side can be very useful in raising objections to the functionality and accuracy of the Intoxilizer 8000 and the manner in which the test was administered, if you have agreed to take it.
On the other hand, that same sharp lawyer may be able to spare you a DUI conviction because of lack of evidence if you decide to refuse, can defend your decision to refuse to a jury, and can assist you in the administrative procedure of obtaining a hardship license after 90 days if you refuse testing or blow over .08.
If you know you haven’t been drinking, go ahead and take the test, but if you think there is a likelihood that you will blow over .08, and especially if there is a chance that you will blow .15 plus, exposing yourself to enhanced penalties, you might seriously consider going with the refusal. Consider it a wake-up call, though, and get help if you have a drinking problem; if you don’t and this is not a regular occurrence, just be more careful of your alcohol consumption in the future! You can only legally refuse once in Florida. The legislature has made a second refusal a separate crime—a misdemeanor.
The law is complex and can be confusing. You need knowledgeable, aggressive, and committed legal representation for any DUI arrest. If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI, call attorney Stephen Maltezos immediately, regardless of the hour of day or night.