Court Discusses Admissibility of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing in Florida DUI Case

If a person is stopped due to suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the police will typically ask the person to submit to field sobriety tests and chemical testing to assess whether he or she is impaired. Florida’s implied consent statute requires licensed drivers to submit to chemical testing and the refusal to submit to said tests can result in the suspension of the driver’s license. Additionally, in many cases, the refusal to submit to chemical testing can be introduced at trial as evidence of guilt.

A Florida appellate court recently held, however, that in cases where the police fail to advise a driver of the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing, evidence of the driver’s refusal to submit to testing cannot be introduced at a trial for a DUI charge. If you live in Sarasota and are currently charged with DUI or other crimes, you consult a trusted Sarasota crime defense attorney to develop a strategy for your defense.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, the defendant, who was driving an SUV, rear-ended a person driving a scooter. The defendant did not stop after he struck the person but continued driving. He then struck a stop sign and briefly exited his vehicle before resuming driving. He was pulled over shortly after the incident. He was transported to a police station where he refused to submit to either field sobriety tests or chemical testing. The defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death, DUI causing damage to property or injury, and DUI causing death. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to preclude the State from introducing evidence of his refusal to submit to any kind of testing, on the grounds that the arresting officer did not read him Florida’s implied consent law or advise him of the adverse consequences he might face for refusing to submit to testing. The court denied his motion. The defendant was subsequently convicted of all charges, after which he appealed.

Admissibility of Refusal to Submit to Testing

On appeal, the court found that the trial court improperly denied the defendant’s motion to preclude evidence of his refusal to submit to testing. The court noted that Florida has an implied consent statute that requires drivers to submit to chemical testing. The statute states, in part, that a refusal to submit to such testing can be introduced into evidence at a criminal trial. In the subject case, however, the arresting officers failed to comply with the provision of the statute that required them to advise the defendant of the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing.

The court held that in cases where the defendant is not informed that testing is mandatory and that there are adverse consequences for failing to undergo testing, refusal to submit to testing is insufficient to establish consciousness of guilt. As such the court held that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to preclude evidence he refused to submit to chemical testing. Under a similar analysis, the court found that evidence of the defendant’s refusal to undergo field sobriety testing was erroneously admitted into evidence as well. As the court found that neither error was harmless, it reversed and remanded for a new trial on the DUI charges.

Consult an Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are a resident of Sarasota and are charged with DUI or other crimes, you should consult an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your charges. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted Sarasota criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to preclude any evidence the State should not be able to introduce against you. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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