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Defenses for a positive Breathalyzer test

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2021 | dui/dwi |

Many state laws give officers the right to pull suspected drunk drivers over for testing. The most commonly used test is a Breathalyzer to measure blood alcohol content, or BAC. However, the test results are not always accurate, and a driver in Maryland can challenge them.

Maryland DUI laws and Breathalyzers

In Maryland, a driver can get charged for driving under the influence or driving while impaired. The state presumes that a driver is intoxicated at 0.08 for a DUI or 0.07 for a DWI. Intoxication includes the use of controlled substances, such as cocaine, and some legal medications or a combination of them with alcohol.

If the driver registers 0.08 or more, the officer must inform the driver they will lose their license for 45 days for a first offense. Drivers have 10 days after the stop to request a hearing to challenge license suspension and 30 days for administrative suspension.

Defenses to Breathalyzer results

A criminal defense strategy can challenge the calibration of the device, meaning questioning if it has been updated. If the device is uncalibrated or not working, it may register unreliable results that the court can’t use.

The officer must show the court they had reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over and probable cause to charge them. Without evidence of intoxication or reason to search a vehicle, the court may throw the case out. An officer must also undergo training to learn how to administer that specific device, or the results could be skewed.

There are some health conditions that commonly skew results, such as diabetes and acid reflux disease. These conditions produce acetones and ketones, which could cause the machine to give a false positive.

A charge for refusing a Breathalyzer test counts as a separate offense from the DUI. However, the driver may be able to beat the charges if they have a valid defense.



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