"Don’t Hold Your Breath?": Failure to Take Breathalyzer in Maryland

Failure to take breathalyzer in Maryland can result in serious penalties.

A commonly held misconception in drinking and driving cases is that refusing the breath test will result in a not guilty verdict.

However, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer often results in greater consequences than taking the test.

A breathalyzer measures a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), and the BAC is the primary form of evidence used to determine criminal charges. While it is true that there will be no evidence of the driver’s exact BAC if they refuse the test, this tactic may not prevent an arrest. Police officers can still arrest drivers based on their performance on standardized field sobriety tests.

When a person obtains their Maryland driver’s license, their consent to submit to a Breathalyzer is presumed. This consent is a condition of the privilege to drive. However, this doesn’t mean that an officer can randomly administer a breathalyzer. Police officers must have reasonable grounds to believe the driver has been drinking and their ability to operate a vehicle has been impaired.

In some cases, failure to take a breathalyzer will automatically result in a suspension of the driver’s license. More typically, it results in a longer possible suspension of the driver’s license along with the potential of additional criminal penalties. CDL drivers may even lose their job.

Drivers are not required to take a breathalyzer. In some cases, it may be in the driver’s best interest not to take one. These circumstances are highly dependent on the circumstances.

The decision about whether to refuse a breathalyzer is not to be made lightly. Drivers have the right to consult with an attorney when asked to submit to a breathalyzer. Under Maryland DUI laws, a breathalyzer must be administered within two hours of apprehension. Officers will respect the driver’s request to consult with an attorney as long as it does not delay the testing process.

For more information about drinking and driving charges or information about contesting breathalyzer results, please contact Andrew I. Alperstein, Warren S. Alperstein, Christopher P. Wheatcroft, and Robert H. Wolf at Alperstein & Diener, LLC.