Currently, in the state of Florida, drivers who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test will face a 1-year suspension of their driver’s license. However, Senator David Simmons is proposing harsher penalties for refusals of breath tests during traffic stops.
Senator David Simmons (R)-Altamonte Springs presented a bill (SB918) that will look to strengthen penalties for those who repeatedly refuse tests for driving under the influence. Under the proposed bill, a motorist who refuses to submit to a breath, urine or blood sample when asked to do so by an officer would be fined between $500- $1,000, would receive four points on their license and would be put on probation for six months.
According to the proposal, individuals who refuse the test for the second time will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. This penalty could bring up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
The motorist would also be required to pay for mandatory interlock devices to be installed on all their vehicles, including those jointly leased or owned, for up to one year, until qualifying for the restricted license.
Moreover, the proposed bill states that a judge will not have discretion on a case by case basis, each penalty must be employed.
NHTSA’s Initiatives to Address Impaired Driving (2003) identified that the increase of testing of crash-involved drivers is one of five priority infrastructure needs to combat the incidence of drunk driving. According to NHTSA, without accurate information on the BAC levels of drivers, the ability to identify the alcohol-crash problem is compromised. Better data allows for better identification of the problem, as well as discerning trends over time.
This is not the first bill involving DUI laws. Recently, the Legislature has also looked to tie boating under the influence conditions into penalties related to offender’s driving records, counting towards the total number of DUIs committed. This bill failed during the last session. Future initiatives also plan for a separate bill that will define the act of driving under the influence of Marijuana.
Intoxalock Ignition Interlock has over 65 installation locations in Florida and supports the proposal to strengthen breath test refusal laws in the state.