A Legal Guide to Understanding DUI Test Laws in Maryland
How the Breathalyzer Works
If you’re ever suspected of drunk driving in Maryland you may be asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test at the police department. Before you submit to this test, you can discuss your legal options with a DUI attorney in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Understanding How a Breathalyzer Works
The purpose of the Breathalyzer is to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you drink alcohol, it will be absorbed into your bloodstream, where it won’t be chemically changed.
As blood flows through your lungs, some of it will move across the membranes of the air sacs in your lungs, which can then be exhaled. As the alcohol is breathed out, it can be detected by a Breathalyzer. Since the alcohol concentration in your breath is connected to the alcohol concentration in your blood, the Breathalyzer can figure your BAC.
However, there are some factors that can make a Breathalyzer unreliable, including:
- the device works on the assumption that the air you exhale is from deep within your lungs;
- it doesn’t measure your BAC in the same manner as a blood test;
- if you recently used mouthwash, you may get a false reading; and
- a low-carb diet can lead to a false reading.
It’s best that you speak with a DUI attorney in Glen Burnie, Maryland, before blowing into a Breathalyzer. You stand to lose a lot if convicted of drunk driving in Maryland.
Behavior is Important During a DUI Traffic Stop
When you’re dealing with a police officer after a DUI traffic stop, you need to be in control of your actions and emotions. You don’t want any of your behavior to cause the officer to become more suspicious or angered.
Signs of DUI in Traffic Stop
During the initial contact face to face with an officer, he or she will be looking for any signs of intoxication including:
- open containers;
- slurred speech;
- poor coordination;
- bloodshot eyes; and
- alcohol odor in car or on your breath.
These factors can be considered “reasonable suspicion” that you’re under the influence of alcohol and may be guilty of DWI or DUI. This will normally prompt the officer to investigate further, including questioning or testing for intoxication.
Remember that you don’t have to answer any questions without consulting with your attorney first. You also don’t have to consent to the roadside sobriety tests, but the officer must have informed you of the penalties that come with test refusal.
As you can see, a first offense DUI stop in Maryland can be a complicated and scary experience for anyone. The basic thing to remember is that you have the right to an attorney before you accept any charges brought against you. Without proper legal help you could be facing unfair penalties and losing your right to a fair trial.
Uncalibrated Breathalyzers May Produce Erroneous DUI Convictions
A roadside breathalyzer unit is a highly sensitive piece of equipment that takes a great deal of care and maintenance to properly maintain accuracy. Officers should be trained in the administration of this test, but also in the maintenance of the machine as well.
Failure to regularly calibrate a breathalyzer machine can result in an inaccurate measurement of your blood alcohol level. This can lead to erroneous arrests for DUI/DWI in Howard County. Unfortunately, many drivers believe the results of this test are unarguable and a sure conviction in court.
A Maryland DUI defense lawyer with experience in fighting breathalyzer evidence will know the right questions to ask about the upkeep of the breathalyzer unit. The maintenance records for the unit should be available, and they may question the officer’s training in using and maintaining their breathalyzer.
If there are any suspicions that the breathalyzer results were compromised, your lawyer may be able to have that evidence dismissed from your case. This can help reduce the charges against you or even have them dropped due to lack of compelling evidence of DUI.
There are many ways that the results of field sobriety tests can be misleading. You have specific rights in regards to FSTs that protect you from self-incrimination or erroneous results. Your Maryland DUI defense lawyer can really make a difference and can help you deal with these issues in your DUI case.
Could You Even Pass a Field Sobriety Test while Sober?
The physical field sobriety tests commonly shown in TV shows and movies are often exaggerated when drivers fail them, but the tests themselves are actually fairly accurately portrayed.
The 3 most common tests you’ll see performed roadside are:
- walk and turn;
- one leg stand; and
- horizontal gaze nystagmus.
The first two are designed to check your coordination and ability to follow simple directions. The problem with these tests is that they are easily influenced by a number of conditions. Environmental conditions like uneven or loose pavement and windy or rainy weather can cause a driver to falter even if they are sober.
Many medical conditions can also impair the physical aspect of these tests. If you have an unstable leg or suffer from joint or muscle problems you can easily fail these tests. Your emotions can play into the accuracy of the tests as well. You are in danger of being arrested and you may be frustrated, upset, scared or otherwise emotionally compromised, which may harm your performance on these tests.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, also known as the eye test, is when the officer uses a flashlight to track your eye’s involuntary movement. An officer must be properly trained in administering and evaluating this test properly, and even then mistakes can be made. Some medical conditions can also cause involuntary eye twitching and skew the evidence.
There are many ways field sobriety tests can cause false accusations of driving while intoxicated. You should be familiar with the Maryland DWI/DUI laws and know your rights when it comes to field sobriety tests and how they impact an arrest for drunk driving.
Long Term Consequences in a DWI/DUI Conviction in Maryland
After being charged with a DWI/DUI conviction in Maryland you should be prepared for the worst. There are numerous paths that the sentence for your conviction could take. An Annapolis, Maryland DWI defense lawyer can help immensely.
Some results of your DUI charge may include jail time, probation or fines; however, there are also permanent effects that a DUI charge may have on your life.
Some Long Term Consequences for DWI/DUI Conviction in Maryland:
- permanent documentation of the incident on your driving record;
- points added to your license;
- increased costs for your insurance policy;
- documented offense on your criminal record; and
- jeopardy in your current profession.
A DWI conviction will remain on your driving record permanently. There are no alternative options such as community service or driving school that can expunge it from your record. This will follow you regardless if you move to a new state or practice years of safe driving after the incident.
Additionally, this charge will also appear on your criminal record. This is because a DUI is considered to be a criminal offense; depending on the particular case this may be a misdemeanor or a felony. Seek an Annapolis, Maryland DWI defense lawyer to learn more about a DUI/DWI conviction in Maryland. For legal advice, an Annapolis, Maryland DWI defense lawyer can help.
Pursuing legal action against a DUI conviction can be stressful and confusing. It’s something that’s not your job and you don’t do it everyday. Chances are you probably didn’t go to school and learn about your rights after a DUI conviction. The good news is there’s someone who has gone to school to learn about your rights. There’s somebody that does this almost everyday of their career. It’s us here at Jimeno & Gray, P.A. We can help. We have the experience and we’re ready to get started on your case. Please call, or chat, or even submit a form that’s on this page. We will respond quickly and most importantly we will help.
What To Do After a Maryland DUI
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland, you are facing serious penalties, among them a loss of your driving privileges. To mitigate the damage a Maryland DUI/DWI charge can have on your driving record and on your future, speak with an Annapolis DWI defense lawyer immediately.
In addition to contacting an attorney, pursue the following:
- File for a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Hearing within 10 days of the arrest. The fee will be $125.00 and if you fail to include the fee, your request will be automatically denied.
- Keep the Officer’s Certificate and Order of Suspension (DR-15A) you were given when your license was taken. This will serve as your temporary license and is valid for 45 days.
- Attend your MVA hearing and your court date. These are separate from one another, so going to one does not mean you don’t have to go to the other, even if you get a favorable outcome.
- Remember that the burden is on the State to prove that you were driving under the influence – it is not on you to prove that you weren’t. An Annapolis DWI defense lawyer can defend your rights and put holes in the State’s case against you by pointing out inconsistencies you may not have noticed.
The Benefits of Hiring a Maryland DUI Defense Lawyer
Taking action and hiring a lawyer is the best thing you can do for your DUI case. When you don’t take action it can get ugly! If you have questions about this specific charge we’re ready to talk.