The Supreme Court has decided to hear two cases involving Refusal to Submit to breathalyzers, known as implied consent laws. Many states make it a requirement for drivers to submit to controlled tests of their breath (or blood or urine) to determine alcohol content… and have penalties for the failure to do so. Many states, including Florida, make it a crime to refuse in certain circumstances. In Florida, a second refusal constitutes a first degree misdemeanor.
These laws have been upheld in Florida, and other places, on the theory that driving is a privilege, not a right. That is, if you accept the privilege to drive, the state can require you to submit to a lawful test. Florida prints it right on the front of drivers’ licenses (take a look along the bottom of your FL DL).
Just 2 years ago, the Court ruled that states cannot routinely take blood draws without getting a warrant. Many states, including Florida, had passed provisions for the immediacy of blood draws in certain circumstances: Florida had allowed them when there was an accident with serious bodily injury. The Court said that with modern technology, in most circumstances, it is possible to get a warrant rapidly, and therefore the state should get a warrant before doing a blood draw. It will be interesting to see how they come down on the refusal issue.