If you are stopped by a police officer while driving and are suspected to be under the influence, you might be asked to submit to a field sobriety test and to other tests that will determine the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. The officer will observe how you handle the physical tests.
Generally, the field sobriety tests involves the officer asking you to perform certain physical feats. For example, in a “walk and turn,” the office checks the driver’s ability to maintain his/her balance while walking in a straight line and then doing a quick turn. A future blog will provide more information on field sobriety tests.
The officer will watch to see if you are impaired and take a lot of notes. Law enforcement officers are trained to do this in order to use the information on your physical state to convict a driver of a Maryland DUI or Maryland DWI. However, it is important that the officer observe protocol – the rules – in his/her observations and, many officers fail to do so. A Maryland DUI/Maryland DWI attorney can assess your situation and determine whether the officer used the correct procedures in conducting the sobriety tests.
There are two other tests — a preliminary breath test, which is conducted by the side of the road, and a breathalyzer, which is conducted at the police station. These tests determine the amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream.
If you test above the legal limit for alcohol, you will be issued an “Order of Suspension” for your driver’s license along with your traffic citation. The police officer will confiscate your Maryland driver’s license and may issue you a 45-day temporary paper license.
With such consequences, some people may wonder if it’s better to refuse to take the tests.
In Maryland, you don’t have to agree to take the field sobriety tests or the “by the road” breath test. You can also refuse to take a breathalyzer at the police station. The refusal to take the breathalyzer test is not admissible against you in court. However, there are penalties for refusing.
If you refuse to take a test to determine your blood alcohol or drug concentration, the police officer will confiscate your Maryland driver’s license just as the driver’s license can be confiscated if you fail the tests, issue a paper temporary license and prepare a case for the Maryland MVA file. Your license will be suspended for 270 days if it is a first offense. In a second offense or subsequent offense, the suspension will be for two years.
The only situation in which you cannot refuse a breathalyzer in Maryland is if you were involved in an accident that caused serious injury or death. In such an instance, a police officer can order you to take a breathalyzer test.
An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you if you have refused to take a Maryland sobriety test and are facing penalties as a result. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience fighting Maryland drunk driving charges. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.244.5068 or via our website for a free consultation.