Question: What are the repercussions for refusing the official state breath test in Maryland?
Answer: The repercussions for refusing to blow in the State-certified machine—when the officer stops your car, again he has to do it for a lawful reason, there has to be reasonable articulable suspicion for the officer to find that you were operating your car under the influence of alcohol. Those things are typically easy for the officer to find: he will find, undoubtedly, that you had red glassy eyes, and he will find that your speech is slurred—which may or may not be the case, but you tend to see that all the time. He will then ask you to engage in a field sobriety test, as we’ve indicated on a previous video, hardly ever go to everybody’s satisfaction. So, when you factor all of these things together under a totality of the circumstances approach, the officer will have the reasonable articulable suspicion to make that arrest. Then they take you to the police station, and as I’ve indicated, they must read you your rights under DR-15, or they have to give you the form to read yourself, and then they will ask you to sign that form, they will date it and time it.
At that point you are required, and it is incumbent upon you, to blow into their breath device. And should you refuse to blow into their breath device, which you can technically do as long as you’re not on federal property and as long as there was no serious accident involved, you can refuse to blow. And if you refuse to blow, you face 120-day suspension of your driving privileges in Maryland. That is modifiable in only one-way: you can only get an interlock for one full year. If he followed all the proper procedures and you refused to blow, you are looking at an interlock, which you have to pay for, which should probably over the course of the year cost you in the neighborhood of $900-$1,000. But that is the only modification that is available to you, other than losing your drivers license for four months or 120 days in the event of a refusal. Now, you may have some other potential defenses: maybe at the MVA, sometimes you do, many times you do not.
It is fairly difficult and challenging to outwardly win an MVA hearing, albeit we do do that with some regularity, but it is not easily done. Therefore, one sort of needs to think carefully prior to refusing to blow in a machine or, if one is going to blow in a machine there are significant consequences either way. It may behoove such an individual to ask to speak with counsel prior to blowing in the machine. You don’t necessarily have the legal right to do that, but many officers will allow you to call counsel to aid in that decision process. But that’s what happens in a refusal case.