Question: Is refusing to take a breath test considered a criminal act in Maryland?
Answer: It is actually considered a criminal act in Maryland, and the state will likely charge you with a 60-day offense for refusing it. Now I have never in my years of doing this seen that ever applied, because a lot of people don’t believe that it should be a criminal offense to not do something. So I haven’t seen it actually ever applied—the state always asks for it, they never did it. I think judges are reluctant to do it.
There was just a Supreme Court case that basically said that you are allowed to have criminal charges based off of a refusal. And that was in the Birchfield v. North Dakota case—there’s a couple of them that just came up that’s sort of helped solidify the fact that they can have a criminal charge. But it’s not something that we see them ever doing. So, whenever there is an implied consent violation or refusal, there’s obviously MVA consequences, and that’s generally the worst thing that’ll happen as a result of a refusal.
In the new change in state law, we pretty much recommend to anyone who thinks that they’re impaired or has had anything to drink to refuse, because the punishments for refusing are so minimal, there’s such a minimal difference between refusing and taking a test, that why would you hand them a positive breath test? So that’s essentially what has changed in the law, and it is a criminal offense in Maryland.