Maryland DUI / DWI What You Should Know If You Refuse to take a Breathalyzer Test
Can you believe it’s already November and the holiday season is here? I love this time of year when we get together with family, friends and co-workers to celebrate and spend time together. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Such gatherings often involve alcohol and it’s important to remember to drink responsibly and drive safely. If you or someone you know has been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to know the law in Maryland. When a police officer stops you and suspects that you are driving under the influence of or are impaired by alcohol, drugs and/or other controlled dangerous substances, the police officer may request that you complete a field sobriety and/or a preliminary breathalyzer test. Several clients have asked me whether you must submit to the breathalyzer test. The simple answer is no, but you should consider the following information before you refuse the test.
Maryland’s implied consent law says that you consent to taking a preliminary breath test. The police officer will use the results to establish probable cause that you were driving while intoxicated. The police officer should tell you that if you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 120 days for your first refusal and for a second and any subsequent refusal, your license will be suspended for one year. The police officer should also tell you that if you consent to the test and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, your license will also be suspended. The suspension time will vary depending on your BAC ranging from 45 days for a first offense and a BAC of .08 through .14 to 180 days for a second or subsequent offense and a BAC of .15 or more.
A police officer cannot compel you to take a breathalyzer test unless you were involved in an accident that caused serious injury or death. If you refuse to take the test or if you take the test and have a BAC of .08 or higher, the police officer will take your license if you are a Maryland driver and will give you a temporary paper license that is good for 45 days. The police officer should inform you that you must request a hearing within 10 days if you want to challenge your suspension and/or request a restricted license. If you refused to take the test, you will only be able to obtain a restricted license by having an ignition interlock device installed in your car for one year and you will be responsible for monthly fees for the device. In Maryland, the consequences for a DUI conviction include suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and possibly jail time, which are more severe than the penalties for refusing a test. Refusing the test, however, does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of driving while impaired (DWI), a lesser offense than DUI, but still a serious offense.
If you or someone you know needs legal advice regarding a DUI or DWI charge, contact The Law Offices of Gary W. Desper. Gary W. Desper practices law in Carroll County, Howard County, Frederick County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Westminster, Owings Mills, Frederick, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Towson and all around Maryland. Call (410) 876-4646 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.