What Happens if a Maryland Driver Refuses a Sobriety Test?
When Maryland law enforcement officers stop a suspected drunk driver, they will request permission to conduct a breath test to determine blood alcohol concentration. Contrary to popular belief, the driver is not required to submit to this sobriety test; but, if the driver refuses to submit to the test there are immediate and long-term consequences. To shed light on this process, the following sections will explore what happens when a driver refuses to submit to an alcohol or drug test.
Advice of Rights
Before a suspected drunk driver is asked to submit to a breath test (or a blood test in a drugged driving case) law enforcement must first provide the suspect with their advice of rights and present an advice of rights form. This form highlights important rules concerning test refusal in Maryland, including a mandatory suspension of driving privileges. This form also warns that a Maryland court may impose additional penalties depending on the circumstances of the offense. This form also provides background material on the ignition interlock program.
Once the driver is advised of their rights and makes a decision then both the law enforcement officer and the driver must sign and date the advice of rights form. Additionally, the officer will note whether the driver agreed to the test or refused.
Order of Suspension
Immediately after a test refusal law enforcement will confiscate or suspend the driver’s license. Law enforcement will also prepare a file for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and issue an order of suspension.
The order of suspension is a two-page, two-sided form with important details about the DUI incident in question. The front side of both pages outlines basic factual information about the offense and indicates whether the driver submitted to a test. The reverse side of one page contains instructions for opting into the ignition interlock program; the reverse side of the second page explains how to request an administrative hearing.
Within 30 days of receiving the order of suspension, the driver may request an administrative hearing to contest their license suspension. If the driver refused the test their driving privilege will be suspended unless they can prove their case does not fall under Maryland’s implied consent statute; otherwise, the Administrative Judge might give the driver a second chance to participate in the interlock program in lieu of suspension.
In order to receive an administrative hearing, the driver must submit a request in writing to the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The driver must include a check or money order with the required fee. Otherwise, the OAH will deny the hearing request.
If the driver does not submit a hearing request within the time limit — or fails to attend a scheduled hearing — then the mandatory period of license suspension begins.
When a driver refuses to submit to a test, Maryland law imposes specific administrative sanctions. The sanction structure is as follows:
- First Offense — Results in a 270-day suspension of driving privileges; and
- Second or Subsequent Offense — Results in a 24-month suspension of driving privileges.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you are facing charges for DUI or a test refusal in Maryland, it can be truly worthwhile to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Bel Air, Maryland, have more than 55 years of combined legal experience in criminal defense, including DUI and test refusals. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.