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Can you refuse a breath test during a Maryland traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2021 | Drunk Driving

If a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, they will have to gather evidence before they can arrest you in most cases. Usually, if the issue arises during a standard traffic stop, a police officer will talk to a driver first. Then they will request a field sobriety test. Finally, they will ask the driver to perform a chemical breath test. 

Many people worry that a test might not return accurate results. There is evidence that testing units can fail for many reasons, ranging from uninstalled software updates to medical issues in the driver performing the test. Do you have the right to decline the test if you worry that it could unfairly implicate you? 

Maryland has laws that require chemical testing in some cases

Maryland has an implied consent law that requires all drivers to submit to chemical testing after they cause a crash or when a police officer has probable cause to suspect chemical impairment. Refusing a breath test can mean that an officer arrests you even if there isn’t conclusive evidence of drunk driving. They may even try to obtain a warrant to test you without your consent.  

The penalties for refusing a breath test include a 270-day license suspension. You can request a hearing to protect your license, but you only have 10 days to do so. Otherwise, you will automatically lose your driving privileges. Additionally, a police officer can still testify about your behavior, meaning that you could still face drunk driving charges as well. 

Knowing the law during an impaired driving traffic stop can help you make informed decisions about what to do next.