After a DUI arrest in Florida, a person will be asked to submit a sample of their breath for analysis. Also referred to as taking the breath test. Upon refusing to provide a sample, the arresting officer is supposed to read a warning that the license will be suspended. Sometimes, people change their mind and provide a sample immediately. What if the officer says it is too late to blow and announces the arrestee has refused?
A person has changed their mind and agrees to take the chemical test, for breath, blood or urine. Now what? The answer is ‘it depends’. Having a changed mind may matter if (1) the request to submit to is made within a reasonable time after the refusal; (2) the test administered would still be accurate; (3) the machine or testing facility is still readily available; (4) there has been no substantial inconvenience or expense to the police; and (5) the Defendant has been in custody while under continuous observation.
The changing of the mind cannot be conditional. Presuming the above listed elements, then a criminal defense attorney can file a Motion to Suppress the refusal so that the State cannot make the argument in the criminal trial that “the Defendant refused because they were guilty”. The case is not necessarily dismissed, but a big piece of evidence can be missing from the prosecution’s case. In addition, long before a DUI trial, a DUI lawyer may be able to successfully challenge the automatic driver’s license suspension that results from refusal. A successful challenge will keep the refusal off of the Driver Record. That is important because a second refusal is a misdemeanor.
Driver’s license proceedings are at the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, or DMV and are separate from the criminal proceedings in the courthouse. The Public Defender does not assist at the DMV and the accused must act within ten (10) days to protect the license.
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