If you have been injured in an accident with a driver that you believe was driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, it is imperative that you retain a DUI accident attorney as soon as possible. Proving that alcohol was a contributing factor in your case can be difficult especially if the driver would not comply with the Florida law of implied consent and refused to take a blood alcohol test.
What is Implied Consent?
The definition of the legal term “implied consent” is an agreement that is inferred from signs actions or facts or also inferred by inaction or silence. One example would be when a person chooses to reside in a particular state, that person is giving implied consent to abide by the laws of that state. Another example of implied consent is the administration of first aid to an unconscious person who is incapable of either accepting or refusing treatment. First responders are allowed to assume that the unconscious person desires to be saved.
Implied consent in Florida DUI cases is the requirement to submit to blood alcohol testing if arrested. If a person receives a driver’s license in Florida and most others states, that person gives implied consent to submit to a breath, urine or blood test from a police officer if arrested for DUI. Refusal to do so in Florida means revocation of their driver’s license. For an officer to submit a person to blood alcohol testing, there must be probable cause such as the driver displaying signs of intoxication or smelling of alcohol after being stopped or involved in an accident. Officers may not ask any driver arbitrarily to submit to a breath, urine or blood test. The implied consent law in regards to DUI is defined in 316.1932 Florida Statutes. This includes breath tests, urine tests and blood tests contingent upon special conditions for each test being met.
Penalties for Refusing to Submit to a Blood Alcohol Test
Any person lawfully arrested for DUI who refuses to take a breath, urine or blood test, is subject to the following penalties:
- First Refusal – Suspension of driving privileges for a period of one year.
- Second Refusal – Suspension of driving privileges for 18 months. The second offense is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to one year in jail or twelve months’ probation in addition to a $1000 fine. A refusal is also admissible into evidence in a criminal proceeding against the accused.
Proving that Alcohol was a Contributing Factor
In a civil lawsuit against a driver who refused a breathalyzer, urine or blood test, intoxication can be difficult to prove. Without toxicology report there is no hard evidence that the driver’s blood alcohol was elevated above the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) that legally defines DUI. Refusal to take the test is a violation of the implied consent law but it is not an admission of guilt, despite the penalties that are handed down by the court. A DUI accident attorney will have to resort to circumstantial evidence to support the case against the defendant. The attorney may use the testimony of the arresting officer as to the condition and behavior of the driver immediately following the accident. This may include the smell of alcohol on the breath or the results of field sobriety tests, if available, and any apparent impaired actions such as slurred speech and lack of coordination. He may also use the testimony of witnesses such as a bartender, persons with the defendant immediately before the accident, any passengers in the car that may have witnessed erratic driving as well as other drivers. An open container of alcohol in the defendant’s possession may also be used as circumstantial evidence.
If there is not sufficient evidence to convince a jury that the drivers impairment caused the accident, that does not mean there was no fault on the part of the defendant. It could still be shown that the driver was speeding, distracted, careless or reckless. If the driver was shown to be impaired, that alone is not enough evidence to prove a case either. For example if you rear end a parked car and the driver of the car you struck is intoxicated, it is still your fault in most cases. But what if he was stopped at a green light at night without any lights on?
The DUI Accident Attorney
If you are involved in any motor vehicle accident and were injured, do not try to decide fault in the case on your own. The complexities of these cases require handling by a skilled attorney. The DUI attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the case to determine exactly what transpired in the time leading up to, during and after the accident. He will interview witnesses, have the accident reconstructed, and provide medical and other experts.
After receiving emergency medical treatment following your accident contact a DUI accident attorney immediately. Waiting can make your case more difficult to prove. Dolman Law Group is a personal injury law firm with extensive experience in motor vehicle accident injuries including those involving DUI. If you or a loved one were injured contact Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652