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Refusing Breathalyzer Tests in Maryland DUI Cases

In Maryland if you are pulled over and suspected of being under the influence, you are not required to submit to a breathalyzer test and in some cases it may actually be in your best interest to refuse. With this in mind, it is important you understand what consequences you may be facing for a refusal and whether it is better for you to refuse. To learn more about refusing a breathalyzer or to discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation with a Maryland DUI lawyer today.

Consequences For Refusing a Breath Test

When anybody is issued a driver’s license in the state of Maryland, it is implied that if they are stopped and if the officer has reasonable grounds to request us to take a breathalyzer test, it’s implied that you will do so. That is part of the contract of being able to be a licensed driver in the state of Maryland, and therefore to refuse to take the test is violating that agreement and is going to have very serious consequences as a result.

For a first time refusal your license is going to be suspended for 270 days. If it is a second or a subsequent refusal then the suspension will be for one year. It can be a very long time that the person’s privilege to drive will be suspended and they cannot get that suspension modified.

Is There A Way to Restore Driving Privileges After a Refusal?

The only way that the driver who refused will be able to drive is if they agree to participate in the ignition interlock system. And the ignition interlock system is not a pleasant experience. The driver has to pay to get the device installed and there are costs for having it serviced and having it in the vehicle every month. Driving with the ignition interlock system in the car can have its own set of challenges.  The person has to blow into the device at certain times while operating the car and the device will be triggered by many different things.

If the device reads any sort of alcohol in the person’s system, enough to trigger some sort of alert that the person has alcohol in their system, after a certain number of those results then the MVA can revert it back to a straight suspension and that person might not be able to drive even on the ignition interlock.

Refusing a Breath Test As a CDL Driver

Refusing to take the test can have a lot of consequences. If the person holds a commercial driver’s license, the penalties are very severe. If they are driving a noncommercial motor vehicle when stopped if they refuse to take the breath test, the CDL can be disqualified for one year or for life if this was a subsequent refusal to take a test.

For a CDL driver, refusing to take the test can be the difference between being able to work or not being able to work. So anybody that holds a CDL has to really consider the consequences if they were to refuse to take the test.

Benefits of Refusing a Breath Test

There are some benefits to refusing to take the test, especially from an evidentiary standpoint. If the person takes a breath test and the result is 0.08 or higher, the state has a huge piece of evidence to use against the defendant. Ultimately, that breath test result of 0.08 which can be used by a judge to basically make the inference that the person was in fact driving under the influence. If the state doesn’t have that breath test result it can be more difficult for the state to be able to try and prove their case. The driver has to weigh these different consequences and what they should do.

On the one hand, refusing to take a test is going to have severe consequences potentially with the MVA and refusing could mean a suspension of their privilege to drive. However if they agreed to take the test, depending on what the test results is, it could be a huge piece of evidence that the state could use against them in court.

That’s why if a driver is asked to take a breath test, the driver should want to have a consultation with an attorney on the telephone prior to making the decision about whether or not to take the test. If the driver asks, the police has to attempt to accommodate them by letting them speak with an attorney. There’s a time limit where the officer can eventually say that they were counted as a refusal because the officers are required to get the breath test done within two hours of stopping the vehicle. The officer should attempt to accommodate the driver in allowing the driver to have a consultation with an attorney but if it starts to encroach on that two-hour window then the officer may count that as a refusal.