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Understanding the serious consequences of breath test refusal

In the state of Maryland, the authorities take all crimes seriously. This serious view of the law includes offenses related to driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated. It is for this reason that serious consequences accompany a breath test refusal.

Maryland drivers who are stopped on suspicion of DUI or DWI will likely be asked to submit to field sobriety tests and/or Breathalyzer tests. Those drivers do not have to submit to either; however, they run the risk of serious consequences related to their driving privileges. Drivers who have commercial driver's licenses face even more severe penalties.

Drivers with Maryland licenses who refuse breath tests will likely see their driver's licenses confiscated by the officers who made the traffic stops. These same officers will then issue the drivers temporary licenses. Additionally, they will provide information about scheduling hearings with the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings.

Drivers who refused breath tests have 10 days to schedule their MVA hearings or automatic license suspensions will occur. Without a hearing, for first-offense refusals, driver's licenses will be suspended for 120 days. For second-offense refusals, the suspension increases to one year.

Commercial drivers face even more serious consequences. For a first-time refusal, a driver's commercial qualification will be suspended for one year. For a second-time refusal, a driver will be banned from possessing a CDL qualification for life.

For drivers who have refused breath tests, there are options. Maryland drivers have the right to have an attorney present at their MVA hearings. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, it may be possible for drivers to avoid the serious consequences that can accompany breath test refusal.

Source: mva.maryland.gov, "Alcohol Test Failure or Refusal," Dec. 19, 2015

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