While you aren’t required to submit to a breathalyzer test if you’re stopped for a DUI in Maryland, you should have a thorough understanding of the consequences should you refuse this test. Under Maryland law, a person suspected of DUI cannot be compelled to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. So, what happens if you refuse and should you make this choice?
Maryland’s Implied Consent Law
When you sign the paperwork to receive a driver’s license or even drive on the state’s roads, you are agreeing to take a chemical test to establish your body’s blood alcohol content (BAC) should the police suspect you of DUI. Should an officer that pulls you over for DUI request that you take a test, you may refuse, but there will be consequences.
Refusing a breathalyzer test in Maryland comes with an automatic driver’s license suspension of 270 days. If you are pulled over again and refuse a second time, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year. The only time you cannot refuse a breath test in Maryland is if the DUI arrest was associated with an accident that resulted in injury or death.
Can You Drive After Refusing a Test?
If you refuse a breathalyzer test in Maryland, your driver’s license will be suspended on the spot. The only way that you will be able to drive during your suspension is to request a hearing before the MVA. You have just 10 days to request a hearing, and you will have to agree to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle to retain your right to drive in Maryland.
Driving with an interlock device on your car can be a challenge as well. There is an additional expense involved with this system, which the state makes sure you pay. You are required to blow into the device to start your car and at certain intervals. If any trace of alcohol is registered by the interlock, the MVA could revert your license back to a full suspension.
Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Maryland?
Whether or not you should refuse a breathalyzer test in Maryland depends on several factors. First, if you are a CDL driver, you should not refuse to take this test regardless of whether you are driving a commercial vehicle when stopped. The penalties for refusal are simply too great. A CDL driver who refuses to take a breathalyzer test could be disqualified from commercial driving for a period of one year or for the rest of their life if this wasn’t their first test refusal.
Other drivers should fully understand the potential consequences of their choices before making this decision. In general, a first offense DUI in Maryland can obtain a probation before judgment if found guilty. This means that there is no conviction or points on your license. Exceptions are when there are high BAC results or an accident with injuries. Given this knowledge, it’s often best to just submit to the test if you are a first-time offender since the penalties will be manageable.
However, those who have had prior DUIs within the past ten years are facing much stiffer penalties if found guilty. There is also no possibility of probation before judgment for these cases. If this is your second DUI, it may be a better choice to refuse the breathalyzer test and then go to an MVA hearing to get an ignition interlock device on your car. You can then work with your DUI attorney on various defenses to reduce your charges or sentence in court.
Consult with a Qualified Maryland DUI Lawyer
Whether you agree to a breathalyzer or not prior to a DUI arrest in Maryland, there will still be consequences to deal with that could have an impact on your future. Even first-time offenders need a legal advocate to help them achieve the most favorable case outcome. Some DUI convictions carry jail time, fines, points, and mandatory treatment.
A skilled Maryland DUI attorney can thoroughly explain your options and will evaluate your case for potential defenses. Even if you submitted to a breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some weaknesses in the system that can be exploited to your advantage.
Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, has been representing DUI clients in Maryland for over 15 years. Contact our Rockville office now at (301) 309-2000 or online to discuss your case.