Implied Consent

Shane Eason is a faculty member of FAU’s School of Communication. He is available to discuss the dangers of driving under the influence to youth groups and schools in the South Florida region.

The UP did not edit this submission. We are not responsible for the content in this column.

In Florida, once a drivers’ license is obtained for a new or renewed driver, there is also an implied consent law implemented by the state that people may not be aware of.

By accepting and using a Florida Driver License from the Department of Motor Vehicles, a person agrees to submit to a chemical or physical test of their blood and/or breath alcohol level and a urine test for drugs and other controlled substances when arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Statute 316.1932, FS).

A person may refuse to take the tests, however, this could result in a one year suspension of the person’s drivers’ license for the first refusal or an 18 month suspension for subsequent refusals. These suspensions are in addition to any revocation that may be imposed by the court upon a driving under the influence conviction.

An individual who is unconscious or otherwise incapable of refusal is deemed not to have withdrawn consent. Nonresidents and others who do not have to obtain a Florida drivers’ license during travel or relocation are considered to have expressed consent to the tests by the very act of driving in the state of Florida.

Tests must be conducted according to procedures established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Therefore, blood samples for testing may be drawn only by a licensed medical practitioner such as a registered nurse, or by a laboratory technician. Individuals that are tested by the police may, at their own expense, have an independent test conducted.

Drivers involved in crashes which result in death or serious bodily injury to another human being may be compelled by the investigating officer to submit to tests for alcohol content and the presence of a chemical or controlled substances. In this case, the officer is permitted to use reasonable force, if necessary, to obtain a sample for testing.

Due to the high numbers of alcohol related crashes involving drivers under the age of 21 in the past years, additional restrictions are imposed while holding a valid driver license for those under 21.

Anyone under the age of 21 with an alcohol level of .02 or above found driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle can lose their privilege of driving for six months, or even one year for a second or subsequent alcohol related suspension. Again, refusing to be tested will result in a license suspension of one full year or 18 months for a second or subsequent refusal.

A violation of this section is not a criminal offense, but can result in an administrative suspension administered by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. When a driver under the age of 21 receives an administrative roadside suspension for an alcohol level of or above .02, the drivers’ license is then confiscated and a 10 day temporary driving permit is issued along with a notice of suspension. The driver then has ten days to request either a formal or informal review by the Division of Driver Licenses.

For more information regarding the laws of driving in the state of Florida, go to www.dmvflorida.org or www.flhsmv.gov where much of the information is sourced.

This column will continue monthly online throughout 2008. To find last month’s column and all other past columns log on to upressonline.com and search “Shane Eason.”

Shane Eason is available to discuss the dangers of driving under the influence to youth groups and schools in the South Florida region. E-mail him at [email protected].