Florida Concerned Over Reluctant DUI Suspects

To Refuse or Not Refuse?

Although there has been a decline in drunk driving from last year, the authorities concern over the number of drunk drivers on the roads heightens as the Fourth of July weekend approaches. “It is a very dangerous weekend to be on the road,” said Assistant State Attorney Michelle Perlman.

Apart from being the deadliest time of the year for alcohol related traffic crashes, it is also a very frustrating time for law enforcement officials. According to Eyewitness News, a new trend has emerged with respect to DUI: the suspects refusal to take the breath test and the simultaneous non-compliance with safety regulations imposed by law.

So far, four out of ten drivers stopped for drunk driving in Florida have refused breathalyzers, making prosecution more difficult owing to lack of evidence collected. A major part of this problem has stemmed attorneys according to Eyewitness News, in which they found that many DUI websites advice people to not take the breath test, going as far as spelling out what to do and not do if you’re stopped. That is, in spite of what is printed on Florida’s drivers licenses, “Operator of a motor vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test required by law.”

“It’s (expletive), and people should be able to refuse,” said Florida resident Joseph Collins. This attitude of non-compliance is a far cry from how the law enforcement mechanism operates at Austin, Texas. Not only does the law enforcement does not take a “no” for an answer, any refusal to use the breathalyzer, requires the drunk driving suspect to take a blood test instead. This strategy has seemed to curb the problem of road accidents related to alcohol consumption more effectively and efficiently in Texas.

“A lot of the criminal defense attorney would tell their clientele, ‘whatever you do, don’t provide a chemical specimen,’ so word got out and the rate of refusals went up,” explained John Bundick with the Austin Police Department.

“Some people, they don’t want to run the risk of having a needle put in their arm so they would rather provide a specimen of their breath than take the chance that they would have a needle stuck in their arm,” added Bundick.

Although, enforcing a blood test after the suspect refused to use a breathalyzer has been done in other counties of Florida such as Brevard and Hillsborough, most of Florida saw this strategy being increasingly overturned as the number of convictions increased in the State.

“I would love to see the law changed because I’m frustrated as a prosecutor with the limitations of proving a drug or chemical substance case,” said Perlman.

Meanwhile, Florida plans to draw blood from suspect’s only when someone suffers an injury or a person suspected of DUI is stopped for at least a third time, that is if the State Supreme Court allows Florida to employ this measure full-swing.

“I think it would be fine,” said Victoria Mauro. “It’s the law to not drink and drive so I don’t see why not, why it would be wrong.”

A majority of other residents also expressed their approval over this new bill.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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