Can I say no to a Breathalyzer test?

Your day is going fine — really no different than any other day. Then, while driving around town, you see flashing lights in your rearview. The police are pulling you over, but you are not sure what for.

The officer comes to your window, and you learn that he or she suspects you of driving while under the influence of alcohol. He or she asks you to submit to a Breathalyzer, which is standard in the state of Maryland. What should you do?


Believe it or not, you do not have to say yes when a police officer asks you to supply a breath sample. Most people think that compliance is a must and feel shocked to find out that it is not. Whichever choice you make, just know that the decision made in this moment can have a significant impact on your life.


What to do

Some people choose to comply. They do this because they think they have no other option, they have concerns about the consequences associated with refusing, or they believe that they will pass the test. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 20 percent of people asked to supply breath samples refuse. That leaves 80 percent gambling that the test will show results in their favor.


Here is the thing with the Breathalyzer. These devices are supposedly highly accurate, but the truth is they are prone to human and mechanical error. These machines need regular cleaning and proper maintenance. If they do not get this, they may produce false high blood-alcohol readouts. These devices may also give high BAC readouts if you take certain medications, use mouthwash or use a number of other products.


Thanks to implied consent laws, those who refuse to submit to Breathalyzer testing may face a number of administrative and criminal consequences. Those who know this may be afraid to refuse testing; however, refusing is not an admission of guilt. There may be ways to fight both the administrative and criminal consequences that follow your refusal to comply.


Refused or failed, now what?

If you chose to refuse Breathalyzer testing or you complied and failed the test, a DUI conviction is not guaranteed. You may be under arrest or have your license suspended. You may feel that your whole world is turning upside down. Know that your situation is not hopeless. With legal assistance, you can take the steps to protect yourself following a DUI charge resulting from a Breathalyzer refusal or test failure.



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