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Chemical Testing in DUI Cases

After a DUI arrest in Florida, the arresting officer will ask you to submit to a chemical test. In most cases, the officer will ask for a breath sample, but sometimes the officer asks for a urine or blood sample.

Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.

The chemical test is used to determine a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) or the presence of any chemical or controlled substance. 

Refusing to submit to a lawfully requested chemical test has consequences. For example, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the officer can trigger an administrative suspension of your driver license that must be contested during a formal review hearing.

In the criminal case in court, the refusal can be used to argue at trial that you were "conscious of your guilt." 

Attorney to Challenge Criminal Testing in DUI Cases

Call an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case in Tampa or Plant City, Hillsborough County, FL, or a surrounding area throughout Tampa Bay. 

The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fight driving under the influence cases to exclude or suppress the result of a chemical test. Contact us to find out more about our experience fighting DUI cases involving a breath test, urine test or blood test.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500.

For a First DUI, Are you RIDR Eligible?

Our attorneys are familiar with the new DUI Diversion Program in Tampa called RIDR. For a first DUI arrest, call our DUI Defense Attorneys in Tampa to find out the eligibility requirements and procedures for entering the new DUI diversion program. 

Entering RIDR means that your DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication so that you might be eligible to seal the record.

If the arresting officer only suspected impairment from alcohol, you might be offered the Level I RIDR program if your BAC was between .08 but under .15. If your BAC was .15 or over but less than .20, then you might be offered the Level II RIDR program.

Keep in mind that even if you qualify for RIDR, you still need to contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license within ten (10) days of your arrest. Demanding the formal review hearing is the only way to get the notation of the administrative suspension removed from your driving record. Otherwise, it will remain on your driving record for the next 75 years.

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing

If the driver refuses to submit to a breath test after being placed under lawful arrest for DUI, then the arresting officer will read the implied consent warning. 

The refusal comes with certain administrative and criminal consequences. At trial, the prosecutor will argue that the fact that you refused to submit to a chemical test indicates that you knew you were guilty ("consciousness of guilt"). Read more about the refusal to submit to chemical testing.

Breath Testing in DUI Cases

After an arrest in Hillsborough County, the driver is taken to the Central Breath Testing Unit of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at the Orient Road Jail. HCSO maintains several breathalyzers. The breathalyzers used in Florida are known as the Intoxilyzer 8000 which is assembled by a company in Kentucky called CMI, Inc.

Read our articles on the drunk driving breath test in Florida. Learn more about the Intoxilyzer 8000 and the FDLE's procedures for regulating these machines.

Urine Testing in DUI Cases

If the arresting officer has reasonable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of a chemical or controlled substance, then the arresting officer can request that the driver submit to a urine test.

If the officer also suspects impairment due to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, then the arresting officer might also request that the driver take a breath test.

Urine testing is the least reliable type of chemical test. It is often difficult to quantify the amount of a chemical or controlled substance or its metabolite in the urine. In many of these cases, the DUI defense attorney will move the court to exclude or suppress the results of the urine test.

Blood Testing in DUI Cases

Under certain limited circumstances, the arresting officer can demand the most intrusive form of testing - the blood test. Although the blood test is considered the most accurate and reliable way of determining the presence of alcohol or controlled substances in the driver's system, it is also the most complicated and difficult to admit at trial.

The arresting officer will often ask for a blood test after the driver goes to the hospital and a breath or blood test is impossible or impractical. Under Florida Statute Section 316.1933, if the officer has probable cause that a DUI with serious bodily injury or death occurred, then the officer can get a warrant to draw blood even before an arrest occurs.

A blood test can also occur if the defendant submits to a breath test and then demands an independent test. If the driver asks for an independent blood test after taking the breath test, then the officer must make reasonable attempts to accommodate that request. If the officer doesn't help the driver obtain the independent test, then the results of the original test can be suppressed.

Florida's Implied Consent Statute for DUI Chemical Testing

To address drunk driving in Florida, the Legislature enacted the implied consent law found at Section 316.1932, 316.1933, and 316.1934. One function of the statutory scheme is to imply the consent for a blood alcohol test of any driver arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence. Id. § 316.1932(1)(a)1.a.

If properly administered, the chemical test results give rise to criminal presumptions of impairment. For example, Section 316.1934(2)(c), makes a blood or breath alcohol concentration ("BAC") of 0.08 or higher prima facie evidence of impairment.

Under the statutory scheme, the chemical tests must be scientifically reliable and accurate. See State v. Bender, 382 So.2d 697, 699 (Fla. 1980).

Under Florida law, presumptions are rebuttable and a defendant may introduce “competent evidence bearing upon the question of whether [they were] under the influence of alcoholic beverages.” § 316.1934(2), Fla. Stat.

In Bender, 382 So.2d  at 699, the court found that "a defendant may in any proceeding attack the reliability of the testing procedures, the qualifications of the operator, and the standards establishing the zones of intoxicant levels." Goodman v. Florida Dep't of Law Enf't, 43 Fla. L. Weekly S61 (Fla. Feb. 1, 2018)

Finding a Lawyer for DUI Chemical Testing in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for drunk or impaired driving and have questions about chemical testing, then contact an experienced DUI attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

We are experienced in fighting to suppress or exclude the breath test, blood test or urine test. We represent clients charged with a variety of drunk driving offenses from a first offense to a more serious second or subsequent offense. 

Contact us for a consultation to discuss how the type of chemical testing used in your case might impact the way the case is resolved. We can help you understand the DUI charges pending against you, possible defenses, the penalties and punishments, and the best ways to fight the charges.

We can begin your defense today. Call 813-250-0500 today.

This article was last updated by Leslie M. Sammis on Tuesday, August 21, 2018.