When an individual is pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of drunken driving, he or she can expect to be scrutinized for signs of intoxication. In addition to observing a driver’s manner of operating the vehicle, his or her demeanor and presentation upon being pulled over, and looking for any immediately visible signs inside the vehicle that the driver is intoxicated, there are also tests that officers will perform.
One form of testing is field sobriety testing, which involves several standardized tests used to gauge a driver’s responsiveness and attention span. In addition, there is the possibility of breath, blood or urine testing. Typically, the first test of this type to be given to a drunk-driving suspect is the roadside or preliminary breath test. These tests are administered prior to arrest and are used as a way to gather evidence of intoxication.
A police officer doesn’t necessarily need to administer a roadside breath test to make an arrest, as long as there is enough other evidence of intoxication to amount to probable cause. If a police officer gathers enough evidence to make an arrest, another test will be administered either at the precinct or a local hospital.
A key question many people wonder about when they are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving is whether they should submit to such testing. Under Maryland’s implied consent law, drivers are presumed to have consented in advance to testing for blood alcohol content in cases where an officer reasonably suspects impairment.
In our next post, we’ll continue speaking about implied consent, the consequences of refusing testing, and how drivers can mount a legal challenge when their drivers’ license is unfairly suspended.