In Florida, when a person gets arrested for DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), he/she is taken to jail and booked into the jail. Only after the arrest and being processed into the jail is the person offered a breathalyzer test to measure a person’s blood alcohol level. Never in the history of DUI arrests have we heard of someone being unarrested after blowing in the breathalyzer and getting a result under the 0.08 legal limit, or even after getting a result of 0.00. Therefore, we can assume the purpose of the breathalyzer is not to objectively determine if the defendant is impaired and guilty of DUI so much as for the police to try and acquire more evidence against someone they are already convinced is guilty o DUI.
A person in Florida who has been arrested for DUI can refuse a breathalyzer test, but that refusal may come with increased penalties including a license suspension or a separate criminal charge for multiple, separate instances of a refusal. However, many people arrested for DUI do not necessarily trust the police when it comes to a breathalyzer test and the true purpose of the breathalyzer test taken after a DUI arrest. In that case, a person arrested for DUI can ask the police officer for an independent blood test. This would be a test administered by an entity, like a private laboratory, that is completely separate from the police. Many police officers do not know that a DUI suspect has a right to request an independent blood test, and the police department has a duty to make reasonable accommodations for the independent blood test. This might include the obligation to give the suspect a phone call and a ride to a lab that is open. Police officers like making arrests, and they like when arrests are finished. They may not want to continue to process and drive the suspect to a lab for an independent test. However, if the DUI suspect makes the request and there is a reasonable way to contact a lab and get the suspect to the lab, the police officer may be obligated to do just that. Jacksonville, Florida has several lab testing companies that provide blood tests for people every day.
If a DUI suspect makes a reasonable request for an independent blood test and the police officer refuses to accommodate the DUI suspect, the criminal defense attorney can move to have the evidence of the police department’s breathalyzer test thrown out.