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What happens when you refuse or fail a breath test in Maryland?

In Maryland, either refusing to take or failing a blood alcohol content (BAC) test can both end up with you losing your driver's license.

At the time of your stop, the officer stopping you is likely to hand you an Officer's Certification and Order of Suspension form. That form will detail reasons the officer suspected that you were intoxicated, whether you agreed to comply with BAC testing and details about suspension of your license.

It's likely that the officer will advise you that the form can be utilized as a temporary license until an administrative hearing in the matter has been held.

The officer should also advise you of the need to advise the court in writing of your request for an administrative hearing within 10 days of your stop. If you fail to request a hearing, then it will be automatically suspended 46 days after your stop.

How long license suspensions will last varies greatly depending on whether you refused to submit to BAC testing, what your percentage was if you failed and if you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your stop.

If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, then your first violation will carry with it a license suspension totaling 270 days. Any subsequent violations will result in an automatic confiscation of your license for two years.

Anyone who refuses BAC testing for their first time in Maryland while operating a vehicle with a Commercical Driver's License (CDL) faces a one year license suspension. This time frame is upgraded to three years if they're carrying hazardous materials when stopped. Any subsequent refusal carries with it a lifetime CDL suspension.

An individual who complies with, yet fails BAC testing with any percentage over 0.08 automatically has their license suspended for 180 days.

If the first offense involves a fatality, then a driver with a BAC over 0.15 will have their license suspended for a year. A subsequent failure where the driver has at least an 0.08 BAC that also involves a fatality results in a year long suspension. Anyone with a BAC over 0.15 in the same situation will have their license revoked.

Losing your license to a suspension can make it difficult to hold on to your job and for you to maintain a social life. A Baltimore breath test refusal attorney can advise you of your rights in your case.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation, "Alcohol test failure or refusal," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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