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Chemical Breath and Blood Tests in Maryland DUIs

Below, a Maryland DUI attorney at our firm discusses chemical breath and blood tests relating to DUIs in Maryland.

Differences Between Breath Tests and Blood Tests

A breath test is most commonly offered to an individual when they are arrested for DUI. They are usually taken to the station and an Advice of Rights form is reviewed with them. These documents state that a person does not have to take the chemical breath test at the station and that they have the absolute right to refuse the chemical breath test. While a refusal in Maryland is not a criminal offense as it is in many other states, it will have consequences for their privilege to drive on Maryland roadways or with a Maryland driver’s license. The blood test is different. Generally speaking, blood tests are administered to individuals if they demand them and if an officer finds there is good reason to give the individual a blood test. They may call someone to come administer that blood test or take the arrested person directly to a hospital where the blood test will be administered. Blood tests are more commonly given to individuals who might be unconscious or have injuries as a result of a car accident that the officer is investigating in conjunction with the DUI. When that type of situation arises, the rules do allow the officer to administer a blood test to the individual since they are incapable of giving a formal breath test at the police station.

Can You Choose Whether to Take a Blood or Breath Test?

Not everybody in Maryland is afforded the right to take a blood test. There are various rules regulating when exactly an officer is required to administer a blood test to a person. If there are no reasonable grounds for a person to refuse the breath test, and since they are not required to give them a blood test, the officer can simply mark the breath test as a refusal at the police station. Since the blood test is somewhat inconvenient to administer, whether or not the person should have been offered one can be taken up in the courts.

What Is Refusal By Construction?

A refusal by construction means an individual is taken to the station where they are given their Advice of Rights, and they elect to take a chemical breath test but when they attempt to take it the first time, they yield an insufficient breath sample. The officer may give further instruction to an individual the second time, but the breath sample could still be insufficient. An officer is required to note that as a refusal and ultimately it is up to a judge either at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration or in the criminal court system to determine whether the refusal was willful or whether the refusal was caused by a malfunction of the machine or based on some health reasons. Individuals with asthma or other respiratory issues who might give a refusal by construction can have their medical condition documented, which makes it possible to refute the refusal by construction in the criminal court system.