Should You Blow In A Breathalyzer In Maryland?
Even if it’s never happened to you, you know it goes. A Maryland state police officer pulls you over under suspicion of driving under the influence, and you are then asked to give consent to allow the officer to have you blow into a breathalyzer. The results of said breathalyzer test then are used to determine whether your blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit and subsequently arrested. What you may not know, is that state police are required to read a form to you, called the DR-15, which lets you know what the penalties will be if you refuse to take the test or if you fail the test.
To blow or not to blow?
If you have been drinking and are subsequently pulled over, you naturally would rather not have to take the breathalyzer. Even if you think your blood alcohol level will be below the legal limit of .08 (for example, you may have only had a couple beers with dinner a couple hours ago), chances are you don’t know for sure. And this is one test you do not want to go into without knowing you are definitely going to ace it.
If you refuse to have the test administered on the spot (such as at the side of road) the officer may take you to the police station to have it administered there. If you refuse then as well, you could have your license will immediately be confiscated and suspended. Then, you will have to request a hearing before the MVA within 10 days to request to get your driving privileges back. Depending on the circumstances of your case, if it is your first offense, your license may be suspended for 120 days, or 12 months for each subsequent infraction. You have limited options to fight such a suspension, and the assistance of an attorney may be necessary to ensure you can keep your license.
In addition, even if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop, the officer may request that you perform a field sobriety test (walk in a straight line, state the alphabet backwards, etc) that could still lead to your arrest (and potentially a conviction) for driving while impaired even without a breathalyzer report. Then, the judge may also consider your refusal to take the breathalyzer test, which could lead to a greater penalty.
If you do take the test and fail however, the MVA will offer a lesser penalty in exchange for your cooperation. Instead of the 120 day suspension, you will only face a 45-day license suspension, and instead of 12 months for each subsequent infraction, you will only face 90 days. However, if you agree to take the breathalyzer, and you blow well over the legal limit (higher than .15) you will face 90 days with a suspended license and 180 days for any subsequent violation, which is still less than the penalty for refusing to take the breathalyzer.
Additional Potential consequences
The consequences discussed above are unfortunately only those in relation to your license suspension from the MVA. In addition to such suspensions, you may also be required to have an ignition interlock for a year if you are found guilty, which essentially is having a breathalyzer installed in your own car. If you fail, the car will not start. You can also face jail time or fines as a penalty for the criminal case.
When you’re at a crossroads and trying to determine whether you should take the breathalyzer test, you have to take everything into consideration. Most people agree to take the exam, but it may not be the best option for you. Depending on how much you have had to drink, whether it is your first offense, how important having a driver’s license is, and whether you have a commercial driver’s license are all factors to take into consider when deciding whether to consent to a breathalyzer. If you’re in a situation where you need legal counsel for a traffic violation like a DUI, contact Rodriguez-Nanney, P.A., a law firm in Annapolis, Maryland today.