A common question drivers ask is “can I refuse a breath test?”. In Maryland you may refuse a breath test, but doing so could result in its own set of penalties.
A Maryland police officer may ask a driver to take a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know how refusing this test can affect you. Understanding Maryland’s chemical test refusal laws can help you protect yourself if you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
Maryland has an “implied consent law” regarding breath tests. This means that as part of having a valid Maryland driver’s license, there is an assumption that you have given consent to participate in alcohol breath tests. Should an officer suspect you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and ask you to perform a breathalyzer test, not doing so can result in a penalty.
If you refuse the test, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may suspend your driver’s license for up to 120 days. This can occur even if you go to court and receive a “not guilty” verdict for your DUI trial. Furthermore, even if you are not convicted of a DUI, you may still have your license suspended.
This automatic suspension may seem harsh, but it is part of having a driver’s license in Maryland. This suspension can be avoided if a hearing is filed within ten days from when your incident.
Is There Any Way Around This Suspension?
Although it is not highly advertised, you can fight this license suspension. Doing so requires following the correct procedure. In the state of Maryland, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test by a police officer, law enforcement will send a copy of your refusal to the MVA. You may then schedule a hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings where you can contest the suspension of your license. The MVA will not schedule this hearing on its own – it will only occur at your request. An attorney may represent you at the hearing. You should consider doing so for the best possibility of not facing a license suspension.
You must request the hearing within ten days from the date of your DUI traffic stop. Otherwise, you will face the automatic suspension of your Maryland driving privileges by default. This date is adhered to strictly, do not miss it.
If You Refuse a Breath Test, Consult An Attorney
In Maryland you may refuse a breath test, but there are potential consequences. Consulting an attorney about your DUI arrest or suspicion of driving under the influence traffic stop should be your first step. The timeline for requesting a hearing is strict, so there is no time to waste.