Under Florida Statute §316.1932 (implied consent law), you are required to submit to a blood alcohol test if police have reasonable cause to believe that you have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any person operating a motor vehicle in Florida is essentially giving implied consent to take a chemical or physical test for intoxication or drug use. Refusing to participate in a blood test may result in a driver’s license automatically being suspended for 1 year. If the driver previously refused a lawful blood alcohol test the license can be suspended for 18 months. However, there may be legal grounds that will prevent the imposition of a penalty for refusal or if you submitted to the exam, grounds to throw the results of the test out of court. Therefore, if you have been arrested for DUI or refused to take a blood alcohol test you should contact a DUI attorney right away
Blood tests to determine a driver’s blood alcohol level may even occur by force if police have probable cause the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury is defined as, an injury which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. See Florida Statute 316.1933. The injury does not need to be caused to an innocent third party, a blood test may be ordered even if the defendant was the only one injured.
A lawful arrest is not a perquisite for police withdrawing blood by force. See Florida v. Filmon. Moreover, the defendant does not even need to be conscious at the time of the blood extraction. Police only need to have probable cause the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury. However, the probable cause must be based on objective facts, the police officer’s subjective opinion is not enough. Determining whether or not police had probable cause will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. If you were arrested for DUI in Florida you should contact a DUI defense lawyer for an evaluation of your specific case. To schedule a free case review with a DUI lawyer in Tampa click here.
In addition to probable cause of drunk driving, the police must also prove there were reasonable grounds to believe that someone in the accident suffered a serious bodily injury. The fact that a person suffered serious injury is not enough to support a DUI blood test by force. The prosecutor must show the officer had knowledge and reasonable belief that there was a serious bodily injury. See Florida v. Cesaretti. Thus, the court’s focus should be on the officer’s knowledge and belief, rather than the actual injuries suffered in the accident.
Under Florida DUI law, blood tests taken for the purpose of medical treatment may also be used to help incriminate a defendant. For instance, blood tests taken by a hospital after an accident may be admitted as evidence in a Florida criminal DUI case as a business record of the hospital. However, the defendant will have the opportunity to attack the trustworthiness of the blood test before it is admitted into evidence. Moreover, even if admitted, the blood tests will not be afforded the presumption that the driver was impaired, as other chemical blood alcohol tests are under Florida DUI law.
Errors in the administration or analysis of blood alcohol test may also render the results of the test inadmissible in court. For instance, blood alcohol tests can provide false results if the testing was administered without proper sterilization, coagulation, fermentation, refrigeration, or markings. Any inconsistencies or errors such as these could render the blood test inadmissible in a court of law. Also, if the results of the blood tests administered by the crime lab and independent lab differ in their results, both tests may be thrown out of court.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida it is important that you seek the counsel of a DUI defense attorney. At Florida Law Advisers, our DUI attorneys sift through every detail of a case to find any errors by police, violation of constitutional rights, mishandling of evidence, or sloppy police work that we can use to help our clients. Every DUI case is unique, so we carefully develop a comprehensive legal strategy that is individualized for each client . To find out if we can help you beat your DUI charges or for answers to your legal questions, contact us today by phone, email, or website form.