Question: Can I request an independent breath or blood test in Maryland?
Answer: You can always request or demand or, quite frankly, go about it yourself and obtain an independent breath test or blood test in Maryland. I’m not sure how one would ever get ahold of an independent ECIR testing machine or other form of a breath machine. Realistically it would have to be Maryland. Maryland uses the ECIR II, which is a calibrated machine and goes through monthly maintenance.
So other than the one at the police station, I don’t know where else one would go to obtain the results from a breath test. I don’t know that there is anything available, and any machine that a defendant was able to utilize would clearly be later in time, possibly outside, and most likely outside the two-hour limitation for a breath test, and it would not be a state certified machine, state qualified or anything else. So I don’t think the independent breath test is probably a valid way to think about doing things. Now having said that, the independent blood test, that’s potentially a different story, because there is two ways for them to get a blood test in Maryland here.
They can do a hospital blood draw, which would be blood drawn by a nurse or physician at a hospital and then the hospital itself runs toxicology as they normally do to determine what somebody’s BAC is. The reason that is done is for treatment purposes; before they start giving a patient various medicines and what not, they need to know if the person’s inebriated or have other central nervous system depressants before they start putting their own in there. So the hospital has a tendency to do that when somebody has been injured in an accident.
The other thing that happens in this scenario is the police officer would go to the hospital with the patient and ask the nurse to draw a vile of blood, which the police officer then takes with him and gives to the Maryland State Crime Lab which is located in Pikesville, Maryland, and the Maryland State Crime Lab then runs a very specific test on the blood to see what the ethanol alcohol level is in that blood. Now, having said that, can a person then turn around and run their own test? And the answer is yes, a blood test has a longer shelf life then a breath test does—it’s closer to four hours, and a person could conceivably walk into one of these small medical facilities, a patient first type of a thing, or a hospital, or some other facility or some other way.
You know, they could have their blood drawn or maybe they could get a vial of the blood that was drawn when the initial blood was drawn by the hospital or the police, and such a vial could then be sent out to an independent lab and then be tested of the presence of ethanol alcohol. So, a person could clearly do that and if it came up with a substantially different number, I think there would be some issues there that the defense could raise in the defense of their own case. So, yes, somebody can get an independent blood test, that is potentially more valid. They would have to move fairly quickly or otherwise get a vial of the blood, but that is a possibility, yes.