Chemical Tests

Nearly 1,000 Treasure Coast drivers were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Martin County and St. Lucie County in 2017. To arrest someone for driving under the influence, a police officer has to establish probable cause. After a driver has been arrested, the officer may then conduct one or more chemical tests on the driver to determine their level of intoxication.

Any information gathered from chemical tests performed on a driver charged with a DUI can and will be used against them if the case goes to trial. If you or someone you love has been arrested for a DUI, it’s important that you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. A lawyer with experience defending drunk driving charges can dissect the case against you and look for any holes in the evidence gathered by law enforcement as well as the methods they used to gather it.

Defense Attorney for Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

Our team at Meltzer & Bell has years of experience dealing with DUI cases. Our detail-oriented attorneys will provide you with the best possible defense against drunk driving charges. Most DUI cases don’t make it to trial. We’ll work to see if there are any aspects of your case that may allow us to negotiate reduced charges (such as a wet reckless) or have the charges dropped altogether. We’ll also be able to determine if law enforcement made any errors in their gathering and handling of evidence or your arrest.

Meltzer & Bell offers free consultations to evaluate your case and see how we may be able to help. Contact us today by phone at (772) 291-2534 or by completing the short online form on this page. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we proudly represent Treasure Coast clients from places like Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Stuart in Martin County and St. Lucie County. The sooner you get in touch with our firm, the sooner we can look at your situation and figure out the best way forward – so call now.

Overview of Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

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Different Types of Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

Florida Statute 316.1932 provides that an officer may conduct one or more of the following chemical tests to gauge the intoxication of a driver arrested for DUI. Each method allows the officer to measure a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) in a different way.

Breath Test

The most common chemical test conducted after a DUI arrest is a breath test. It is considered an indirect method of measurement, and many variables can affect the results of the test or call its reliability into question. The breath test is conducted by having the suspect blow into a device called a breathalyzer which provides a readout of the suspect’s recorded blood-alcohol content. In attacking the breath test results, an attorney may question the training of the person administering the test, the accuracy of the device used, and other factors which could cause a misreading.

Urine Test

Urine tests are often administered when law enforcement officials suspect that a driver is under the influence of a controlled substance that will not register on a breathalyzer. A urine test can also detect the presence of alcohol. However, it can be difficult to directly prove that the suspect was intoxicated at the time of arrest. This type of chemical test cannot be conducted without a warrant or consent from the suspect.

A urine test must be conducted in a private setting by a trained professional. There is also a specific procedure that must be followed to prevent any contamination or spoiling of the sample. We thoroughly review every step of your arrest and the data gathered by police to challenge the case brought by the prosecution.

Blood Test

A blood test is the most intrusive form of chemical tests that the police may use to get a BAC reading from a suspected drunk driver. However, law enforcement may not draw blood without a warrant or consent from the suspect. An exception to this rule is that no warrant is required to obtain a blood sample if the suspect is involved in an accident involving the death of a third party or severe injuries to the suspect or a third party.

If the suspect is hospitalized after an accident and has their blood taken by hospital staff, it is possible for police to obtain the results of the blood draw analysis. However, law enforcement must issue a subpoena to the hospital to access this information. When reviewing blood evidence in a DUI case, we review how the blood sample was taken and by whom, how it was handled, and whether law enforcement was actually authorized to obtain the sample. Our attorneys are well qualified to review the evidence and identify any mistakes or procedural errors.

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Field Sobriety Tests vs. Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

During a traffic stop, if a police officer finds probable cause to suspect a driver is under the influence of alcohol, he or she may ask the driver to step out of their vehicle to conduct a series of field sobriety tests. These tests measure various aspects of a driver’s physical coordination, balance, response time, and other factors which may be inhibited by alcohol. A driver’s performance during these tests, which is captured on the officer’s dashcam and is admissible evidence at trial, is mainly used by law enforcement as evidence of the driver’s intoxication.

If an officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, you have the legal right to refuse. What many may not realize is that the officer may arrest you based on probable cause. This means that whether you take the field sobriety test and pass it, fail it, or refuse to participate altogether, the officer may choose to arrest you anyway.

Chemical tests are a different story. Law enforcement may perform one or more different chemical tests on a suspect in an attempt to establish hard scientific evidence of your intoxication. The most likely test to be administered is a breath test because, unlike urine and blood tests, no warrant is required to use a breathalyzer. Unlike field sobriety tests, you may not refuse to submit to a chemical test without consequence. Florida law has an “implied consent” clause which stipulates that, by operating a vehicle in Florida, the driver consents to chemical testing upon being arrested for a DUI.

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Penalties for Refusing Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

Refusing to submit to a chemical test in Florida will result in the automatic suspension of your license. Penalties increase if you have already been charged with your first DUI. The first time you refuse to take a chemical test, your license will be suspended for 12 months. Each subsequent refusal to submit to a test after a DUI arrest will result in an 18-month suspension of your license.

Your license cannot legally be suspended if the traffic stop leading to your arrest was initiated without reasonable suspicion that you had committed or were about to commit a crime. The suspension of your license should also not be upheld if your arrest was unlawful, meaning that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to conduct the arrest. A criminal defense attorney experienced in Florida’s DUI laws can evaluate the circumstances of your arrest and identify whether any improper actions were taken by law enforcement.

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Additional Resources

Tests for alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances; implied consent; refusal | Florida Statutes Section 316.1932 – The online version of Florida’s Statutes, published on the Florida Legislature’s official website, contains the in-depth definition of the laws that authorize law enforcement to collect evidence to establish your BAC. This statute outlines in great detail the circumstances in which chemical tests may be administered, establishes procedure, and defines Florida’s implied consent law that penalizes anyone who refuses to submit to a chemical test.

Florida DUI cases built on faulty test results | Sarasota Herald-Tribune – This 2011 article published by a Sarasota newspaper demonstrates that faulty law enforcement equipment can be a defense. According to the article, 40% of Florida’s breathalyzers of a certain make and model were in use for years, across thousands of DUI tests, before it was discovered that they were not measuring properly and needed tuning.

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Defense Lawyer for Chemical Tests in Treasure Coast, FL

It’s not the end of the road if you or someone you know is facing DUI charges in the Treasure Coast area, including Palm City, Fort Pierce, Stuart, and Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County and Martin County. Whether you submitted to a chemical test or refused to take one, we can review your case and help ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Contact Meltzer & Bell by phone at (772) 291-2534 or by completing our online form on this page. We offer a free consultation to review your unique situation. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best thing you can do for your defense is to speak with a competent attorney with proven DUI defense experience. Our attorneys are equipped with the legal knowledge to identify flaws in the state’s case against you, suppress evidence, and push for your charges to be dropped, when possible. Don’t wait; call today.

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