What you do after initially being pulled over for suspected DUI can determine whether you walk away charge-free or end up with a permanent record. In a DUI case, a police officer will pull over a driver if they have reasonable suspicion that the person was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. During a normal DUI stop, the officer will ask the driver to step out of the car and—if appropriate—engage in several tests. Under the Fifth Amendment, drivers have the right to remain silent, particularly if they believe something they say can be used against them in the future. But how does this translate to field sobriety, breath, and blood tests?
You always have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, including activities such as walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and following the officer’s finger with your eyes. However, Maryland is an “implied consent” state, meaning you must submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if the officer has enough cause to request one. If you refuse, you can potentially have your license suspended and you may still be arrested and charged. Read on to get more answers to DUI questions.
Will I Lose My License If I Refuse a Breath Test?
You can have your license suspended if you refuse to submit to a chemical test. Many individuals believe they can protect themselves by refusing to submit a breath test. This isn’t always a smart move. If you refuse to take a breath test, an officer can still detain you if they have probable cause that you are under the influence and take you down to the local station for a mandatory chemical breath test.
Consequences for refusing a breath test include:
- 1st offense – License suspension for 120 days
- 2nd offense – License suspension for 1 year
- 3rd offense – License suspension for 1 year
If you do refuse, the officer has the right to obtain your license immediately. They will then issue a 45-day temporary license.
To contest the suspension, you must request a hearing within 10 days. If this was a first offense, with no serious injuries or damage, you can possibly sustain a restricted license with an ignition interlock device (IID). You will need to keep the IID for a year and pay the fees.
Is Refusing a Breath Test In My Best Interest?
Each case is unique, so whether or not you should refuse a breath test can depend on the specific factors involved in your DUI traffic stop. Ultimately, even if you refuse a roadside breath test and accept the consequences, an officer can enforce a mandatory chemical test back at the station, which means you could face additional penalties for DUI and refusing a breath test. Refusals may also reflect poorly in court, even if there is no chemical evidence to submit, your refusal could be evidence enough.
A DUI conviction can be damaging not just in the present, but in the future as well. In addition to hefty fines and potential jail time, the charge will go on your permanent record. If you are underage, the consequences will be even greater. Regardless of whether you refused a breath test or not, Gracia & Mintz is here to defend your name. Our Prince George County DUI lawyers can review your case and help you find the best solution possible. Call today to schedule a free consultation.