We’ve been looking at the question of whether or not it is wise to refuse submitting to a breath test. Readers who have been following these posts may have noticed that we have not given a hard and fast answer. Rather, we’ve explained the consequences of a refusal and the factors that affect the consequences.
In our next post, we’ll provide a more direct answer to the question, but the reason for looking at the issue this way for now is that motorists need to make an informed decision about a refusal rather than assuming it is always good or always bad. The more you understand the criminal process and your rights, the more empowered you are to make good decisions.
By way of summary, we’d like to recall several important points to keep in mind regarding the issue of breath test refusal. The first couple points could be looked at as the bad news regarding breath test refusal, while the last two points could be looked at as the good news, or at least potentially good news.
- First, refusing a breath test results in automatic driver’s license suspension and may not prevent prosecutors from obtaining a DUI charge anyway, though it does make it more difficult for them to do so.
- Second, in cases involving serious injury or death, officers may still be able to obtain a warrant to draw blood despite a refusal, provided they have adequate grounds to believe that alcohol or a controlled substance was involved.
- Third, neither the refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test nor the results of such a test are admissible in court, so refusing such a test may be of little consequence except that it may frustrate the investigating officer.
- Fourth, breath testing must be performed correctly to have evidentiary value, so officers who perform official breath tests incorrectly aren’t doing prosecutors any favors since an inaccurately performed breath test would not be admissible in court.
Another factor that needs to be taken into account in this discussion is whether one has prior offenses for DUI. In our next post, we’ll see how this factor can change the perspective on whether it is smart to refuse a breath test during a DUI investigation.
Justia US Law, “2010 Maryland Code; Transportation; Title 16 – Vehicle Laws-Driver’s Licenses; Subtitle 2 - Cancellation, Refusal, Suspension, or Revocation; Section 16-205.2 - Preliminary breath test.,” Accessed Feb. 26, 2015.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Breath Test Refusals in DWI Enforcement: An Interim Report,” Accessed Feb. 26, 2015.