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Can police take your blood if you refuse a breath test?

Across Maryland and Washington, D.C., there has been an increasing awareness among motorists that they do not have to take a breath test when asked by police. If a Montgomery County officer pulls you over after he or she suspects that you have been drinking and driving, it is likely that he or she will ask to test your blood alcohol content with a breath test, but in many situations you can refuse the test. In some states, however, this could lead to an arrest and a blood draw to test for alcohol in your system.

More police departments and law enforcement officials are relying on blood warrants to "search" a person suspected of drunk driving's blood. Law enforcement officers will frequently arrest a driver if they claim there was other evidence of intoxicated driving and then request a warrant for the motorist's blood from a state court judge. While police need sufficient evidence to make an arrest, some of the evidence they use includes bloodshot eyes, having difficult removing a driver's license from a wallet, the smell of alcohol and slurred speech. Unfortunately for drivers, it would be possible for someone to fit into one or more of these categories without actually driving while impaired or intoxicated.

Not only are police departments requesting blood warrants, but some counties are even keeping a judge or magistrate on hand 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This means that many motorists suspected of drunk driving are often stuck making a difficult decision -- do you refuse to take a breath test and be subjected to arrest and an extremely invasive blood draw, or do you take a breath test and risk an unreliable or faulty result?

Driving under the influence and driving while impaired are serious crimes in Maryland. In many cases, you could face a long prison or jail sentence and a large fine. You could also lose your license because of a suspension or revocation. And, if convicted, you will have a permanent criminal record, which could affect future employment, schooling or professional licensure. By working with a criminal defense attorney, you may be able to mitigate the harm of a drunk driving offense and potentially be able to clear your name of any wrongdoing.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "DUI test refusals prompt blood warrants," Rhonda Cook, Dec. 23, 2011

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013