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What are the penalties for breath test refusal in Maryland?

Maryland drivers who are stopped by law enforcement during an investigation of a possible case of driving while intoxicated might be under the mistaken impression that they have the right to refuse to take a breath test or take part in field sobriety testing procedures. When a law enforcement officer makes a stop amid the belief that the driver is under the influence, it is within their rights to ask that tests be taken. Refusing will allow the officer to take the driver's license if it was issued by the State of Maryland. The officer will then give the driver a temporary license and begin a case for the Motor Vehicle Administration of the state. A commercial driver will be immediately subjected to a license suspension.

When the incident occurs, the officer might give the driver a form that provides information about a pending license suspension and whether or not the test was taken voluntarily. A driver who has had the license taken away by the officer might be able to use this certificate to drive on a temporary basis. In addition, the officer will give an "Advice of Rights" form. This explains the administrative penalties and how to request a hearing. On this form, it will be indicated whether the driver agreed to take the test or refused to take it.

When a driver does not ask for a hearing within ten days of the date of the traffic stop, the driver's license will be suspended on the 46th day after the date in which the order of suspension was made. For a refusal, the first offense will result in a suspension of 120 days. For a second or subsequent offense, there will be a suspension of one year. A driver is allowed to ask for a hearing to argue that there should not be a suspension or to have a modification of the suspension.

Drivers who refuse to take a breath test or field sobriety test when requested to do so during the course of a law enforcement investigation need to be aware of the consequences for that act. Losing driving privileges can be an inconvenience and, for those who drive as part of their employment, it can be a significant financial problem. Speaking to an experienced DWI attorney can help with lodging a defense for a case involving breath test refusal.

Source: mva.maryland.gov, "Alcohol Test Failure or Refusal," accessed on March 24, 2016

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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