Police officers in Maryland who are looking to build a case against a driver who may be impaired often ask the driver if he or she has been drinking.
Keep in mind that if you answer that you have been drinking, you’re giving the officer “ammunition” to administer tests to determine whether you’re impaired. There are ways to sidestep this question, such as saying that you would like to consult your attorney before answering.
There are typically two methods that officers use to find out if the driver is impaired or under the influence of alcohol: field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests. Whether you should agree to take these tests depends on the details of the incident and the state of your driving record.
Both of these kinds of tests are prone to mistakes and/or oversights and need to be administered in a manner consistent with strict state and national guidelines.
One example of this is the often used “walk and turn test.” The police officer asks the driver to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line for a certain number of steps then turn around, and return to the starting point without weaving or stepping off of the line. The officer is not only looking to see if the person walking is having trouble with balance, but also to see how well he or she is paying attention to directions.
This test may sound simple, but even a sober person can have trouble with it, especially in the nerve-racking situation of being pulled over by the police. Other tests, such as the “one leg stand” and the “follow the pen” (known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test), also sound simple enough however, following all of the various instructions set out by the officer just seconds earlier quickly becomes daunting. All of these tests are supposed to evaluate whether you can juggle different tasks (psycho-physical) at the same time.
In Maryland, police officers need to adhere to a strict set of regulations when administering breathalyzer tests. Though the state limit for blood-alcohol content is .08, an officer can declare a driver impaired at a lower BAC level. Nevertheless, even breathalyzer tests, considered by law enforcement to be reliable, are prone to human error and mechanical failure.
Police officers are human and can make mistakes. Many would argue that the very nature of their profession and the experiences they encounter on a daily basis can actually result in a bias and natural suspicion against anyone that they happen to pull over. There are many ways in which even the most experienced of law enforcement professionals can make mistakes during a DUI traffic stop in Maryland.
Maryland DWI defense attorney Andrew Alpert is a former prosecutor who has specific training in defending DUI cases and in DUI related issues. He owns and operates several breath testing instruments, is a certified breath alcohol technician and is one of only a few Maryland attorneys who is a certified NHTSA field sobriety test instructor. He has taught numerous drunk driving courses, conducted lectures on DUI law, and has successfully represented numerous individuals charged with DUI/DWI in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Get your free case evaluation now by dialing (866) 444-6363 or click here to fill out a confidential online case evaluation form.