ABOUT BREATH TESTS IN MARYLAND
WHETHER TO TAKE THE BREATH TEST
Everyone asks me whether they should take the breath test. Your decision on this will affect you at the District Court trial on the issue of guilt or innocence; and it will affect you at the MVA hearing which you can schedule to determine whether your license will be suspended.
If you take the breath test, and you blow .08 or higher, you are conclusively presumed to have been driving while intoxicated. The only way to avoid a conviction is to prove that the officer did not follow the proper procedure in giving the test to you. Sometimes we can be successful at Court in keeping out of evidence the result of the breath test.
Furthermore, if you blow over .08, you are subject to sanctions by the Motor Vehicle Administration. You license can be restricted or suspended. Sometimes commercial driver licenses can be disqualified.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Well, if you’ve only had one glass of wine or one beer, you’re probably safe in taking the breath test, and that could lead to the officer releasing you from custody. It could also lead to a “Not Guilty” in court. But if you’ve had more than one to drink, the likelihood is that you’ll blow over the limit of .08, and that will definitely lead to a conviction in court. Your refusal to take the test could result in the suspension of your license, but in almost all cases, you will either be eligible for a work-restricted license, or you can have an ignition interlock installed for 1 year, in which case you can drive without restriction.
If you didn’t admit to drinking; and if the officer has no negative field sobriety test and no breath test result, the prosecutor will have a very weak case.