Florida Can Punish Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

DUI Refusal To Submit Breath Test

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

The US Supreme Court gave the OK to punish DUI defendants for breath test refusal. This allows Florida to give harsher penalties to defendants for their breath test refusals, even with no search warrant. The Court ruled DUI arrests Breath Tests are likely to happen. So, Breath Tests do NOT need a warrant.

Three Reasons Court Used to Justify Punishment of a DUI Refusal

Here is why the search-incident-to-arrest doctrine applies to breath and blood tests incident to such arrests.

  • “First, the physical intrusion is almost negligible. Breath tests “do not require piercing the skin” and entail “a minimum of inconvenience.””
  • “Second, breath tests are capable of revealing only one bit of information, the amount of alcohol in the subject’s breath.”
  • “Finally, participation in a breath test is not an experience that is likely to cause any great enhancement in the embarrassment that is inherent in any arrest.”

The case is Birchfield V. North Dakota No. 14–1468. ( June 23, 2016). This was a combining of three cases: Birchfield v. North Dakota, Bernard v. Minnesota, and Beylund v. Levi.

History of Breath Testing

As far back as, 1905 the LA Times covered a felony manslaughter trial of B. Hook. Hook had been drinking whiskey with his friends and struck and killed a pedestrian. There was no reliable way to prove a driver’s drunkenness. Most roadside tests are subjective. The National Safety Council started a campaign in 1936.

If you drink, don’t drive.”

So after prohibition, police used the new Widmark Formula to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The equation was innovative. The method used was difficult, messy and had unreliable results.

Widmark Formula
Widmark Formula

Later, in 1936, biochemist and toxicologist Harger patented the “Drunkometer.” The driver would blow into a small balloon. The officer would put the captured air into the Drunkometer. Alcohol produced a color change. The officer could measure and calculate the BAC. The results were reliable and accepted by the courts. Then Borkenstein patented the smaller and easier “Breathalyzer” in 1954.

Over time, improved Breath Test machines continue to improve. Today, devices detect alcohol more quickly and accurately than before. Some use infrared technology rather than a chemical reaction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approves all breath testing machines used in courts. Federal Standards require the devices be accurate and reproducible at a variety of BAC levels.

20 Percent of Drivers Refuse a Breath Test

On average, over one-fifth of all drivers asked to submit to BAC testing in 2011 refused to do so. Source: NHTSA, E. Namuswe, H. Coleman, & A. Berning, Breath Test Refusal Rates in the United States— 2011 Update 1 (No. 811881, Mar. 2014).

To combat the problem of test refusal, some States have begun to enact laws making it a crime to refuse to undergo testing. The Federal Government also encourages this approach as a means for overcoming the incentive that drunk drivers have to refuse a test. It is a crime under state law to refuse to submit to a legally required BAC test.

Punishment for Refusing Breath Test

The officers asked Bernard to take a breath test. He refused. The officers told Bernard he had to comply. After he refused, prosecutors charged him with test refusal in the first degree because he had four prior impaired-driving convictions. The state prosecuted Birchfield for refusing a warrant-less blood draw. Bernard and Birchfield each refused to undergo a test. Each was convicted of a crime for his refusal. But Bernard refused a Breath Test and Birchfield refused a blood test. Beylund agreed to a blood test after police told him that the law requires it.

Success for all three depends on the idea that the law does not make someone submit to testing without a warrant. If warrant-less searches agree with the Fourth Amendment, then States may make laws demanding someone to submit to these tests.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – Amendment IV

Search Incident to Arrest

In the three cases, the officers arrested the drivers for drunk driving. Next, they searched the drivers. Then the officers told the drivers the law required the search. The Court reflected on using the search-incident-to-arrest with breath and blood tests.

  • First, breath tests “do not require piercing the skin” and entail “a minimum of inconvenience.”
  • Second, breath tests are only reveal one bit of information, the amount of alcohol in the subject’s breath.
  • Finally, taking a breath test does not increase embarrassment of the arrest.

If every arrest required a search warrant, search warrants would inundate the courts.

Fourth Amendment Permits Warrant-less Breath Tests Incident to Arrests for DUI

Having assessed the effect of BAC tests on privacy interests and the need for such tests, we conclude that the Fourth Amendment permits warrant-less breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving. The impact of breath tests on privacy is slight, and the need for BAC testing is great.” – Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S. Ct. 2160 – Supreme Court 2016

The Court decided breath tests do not need warrants during DUI arrests. The Court also decided that this does not apply to blood tests.

The Court decided breath tests do not need warrants during DUI arrests. The Court also decided that this does not apply to blood tests. First,the state did not prosecute Beylund for refusing a test. The state needs to re-evaluate that case. Second, Birchfield was threatened with an unlawful search and that the judgment affirming his conviction must be reversed. Finally, since the state prosecuted Bernard for refusing a warrant-less breath test. That test did not conflict with Fourth Amendment, Bernard had no right to refuse it.

Complete Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-1468_8n59.pdf

Brandon, Breath Test Refusal, DUI News

DUI Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test | 813-222-2220

“Officer was not qualified to make a determination that the defendant was under influence of anything other than alcohol”

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test in a DUI §316.193(1), Brandon DUI Attorney, Chemical Test, Driving Under Influence Defense Attorney, dui refusal, Tampa Driving Under Influence Defense, Urine,
Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test in a DUI

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test in a DUI

Driving Under Influence Defense Attorney in Tampa reports that the Refusal to submit to a urine test may not always be a bad decision for those suspected of DUI. Especially relevant one court just ruled that a DUI Officer did not have probable cause to ask a defendant to submit to a urine test. The cop asked for a Urine sample to perform a chemical test under Florida Statute Chapter 316.

The court noted that the defendant’s breath test did not meet the level for the presumption of impairment. Nevertheless, the police officer saw the DUI defendant lying in a vehicle. Then the driver did not move the vehicle through multiple traffic light phases. The cop testified that the suspect exhibited signs of intoxication, and told the DUI officer that he was in pain and needed to take medication.

The key to the court’s ruling suppressing testimony about the refusal to submit to a chemical test was a finding of the unqualification of the Officer to make a determination that the defendant was under influence of anything other than alcohol. Notably, the cop did not observe any evidence that defendant was under influence of narcotics. A search of the DUI suspect’s vehicle and his person did not reveal the presence of any drugs. The court ruled in favor of suppressing the refusal to submit. Read about efforts to improve qualifications of officers.

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test Case Excerpts:

Before The Trial, The Court  Allowed The Refusal To Submit Into Evidence

“[T]he Appellant was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence in violation of Florida Statute §316.193(1). Prior to trial, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress evidence of the Defendant’s refusal to submit to a urine test. The Trial Court denied the motion to suppress evidence, and the evidence of the Defendant’s refusal was admitted into evidence.”

Collecting And Testing Urine Are Considered Searches

“The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution guarantee citizens the right to be free against unreasonable searches and seizures. Art I § 12, Fla. Constitution. In order to request a driver submit to a urine test, the officers must [have] reasonable cause to believe such person was driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of chemical substances or controlled substances. Additionally, it is clear that the collection and testing of urine intrude upon expectations of privacy that society has long recognized as reasonable . . . these intrusions must be deemed searches under the Fourth Amendment. Skinner v. Ry. Labor Executive Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602, 617 (1989). “

An Officer Must Look At The Whole Picture

“Therefore, the test is whether the facts and circumstances within an officer’s knowledge are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed. McNeil v. State, 512 So.2d 1062, 1064 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987). In determining if probable cause exists, the totality of the circumstances, i.e., the whole picture, must be taken into account. State v. Ellison, 455 So.2d 424, 427, (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); Elliot v. State, 597 So.2d 916 (Fla. 4th DCA1992). “

The Officer’s Hunch Is NOT Enough

“The facts and circumstances in the instant case fall short of the probable cause finding necessary for the officer to believe that the Defendant was under the influence of drugs.” “The grounds for requesting the urine sample in this case resembles a hunch or a mere suspicion, rather than probable cause. Therefore, the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress.”
Source: FLWSUPP 1807ESTR
1st Time DUI, Commercial DUI, Underage DUI

First-Time DUI Diversion

Why Start New First-Time DUI Diversion (RIDR)?

New First-Time DUI DiversionHillsborough County has consistently been ranked the worst or near the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Given the dangers of impaired driving and the importance of reducing recidivism to promote long-term Community safety, the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office has established the reducing impaired driving recidivism initiative. The program seeks to aggressively target and reduce impaired driving by imposing enhanced sanctions like alcohol monitoring devices and DUI education programs on first-time, non-aggravated DUI offenders. This First-Time DUI Diversion program also promotes consistency in the prosecution of DUI cases by eliminating the incentive for offenders to refuse to provide a breath sample during the investigation.

Who Is Eligible for First-Time DUI Diversion Program?

To be eligible for the First-Time DUI Diversion program, first, the case must be a misdemeanor DUI. There can be no children in the vehicle. Also, the breath alcohol concentration must be below .200% and there cannot have been a crash. Additionally, there cannot be a prior DUI alcohol-related reckless driving, driving while license suspended with serious bodily injury or death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, or vehicular homicide charges in the driver’s past. Finally, there cannot have been a prior DUI diversion program, more than one non-DUI diversion program as an adult, or in the five years prior to the date of offense the driver cannot have had a prior adjudication withhold or any portion of a sentence on a felony.

What Is The Process For Selecting Cases In This DUI Diversion Program?

The state attorney’s office will evaluate all cases on an individual fact-specific basis. The state attorney’s office solely determines the individual’s eligibility for the RIDR First-Time DUI Diversion Program. There will be three sanction levels for eligible cases. Level one cases will have a breath level below .15%. Next, Level two will have breath alcohol levels above .15% but less than .20% or there has been a refusal to provide. Last, Level 3 will be for drug-related DUIs.

Why Would Someone Want To Accept A Plea Offer Under The New DUI Program?

Mainly the driver will be offered a reduced charge of reckless driving and withhold adjudication. There will be 12 months probation. Individual must pay standard court costs and cost of supervision. They will have their vehicle immobilized for 10 days. The first-time DUI offender cannot possess or consume alcohol, illegal drugs, or non prescribed drugs during that 12 month period. Also, the offender must successfully complete the DUI school and any recommended treatment.
1st Time DUI, Breath Test Over 08

Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism – Established DUI Diversion

DUI Diversion Program

Established DUI Diversion Programs
Established DUI Diversion Programs in 8th, 9th, 11th, 13th Circuit Courts

The Office of the State Attorney, 13th Judicial Circuit just developed their own DUI Diversion Program. Therefore, we will look at some of Florida’s already established DUI diversion programs. The 8th, 9th, 11th & 15th Circuit Courts all use DUI Diversion for a driver’s first DUI charge. Furthermore, each Circuit Court has different admission rules and distinct program requirements. Update: This Hillsborough County program started March 1, 2018. You can read about what the state’s attorney is looking for, what you might need to know, who is eligible and why you might want to be a part of this program.

Admission Requirements Are Confusing

First of all, some of the confusion of this process is shown below. Since each county has developed their program independently, the demands on the DUI driver differ. Therefore for help, call (813) 222-2220. In Orange and Osceola Counties, only legal U.S. residents can join the DUI Diversion Program. As a result, a tourist, a foreign national or someone on an F1 student visa charged with a DUI could never enter the DUI Diversion program in the Ninth Circuit Court. In Miami-Dade County, there is no upper limit on your breath alcohol concentration (BAC) to make you ineligible. But that same county requires that you sign a statement of guilt before entering. Three of the Circuit Courts (8th, 11th, and 15th) will refuse your admission if a child or animal was with you in the vehicle at the time of the charge. Another difference is that only the 8th Circuit Court will use drunken aggression as a reason to deny your access to the program.


Admission Qualifications of Established DUI Diversion Programs in Florida By County