DUI Stop – Do I Take Or Refuse A Breathalyzer

By Lee J. Eidelberg, Esquire

When facing a DUI stop in Maryland, the decision to take or refuse a breathalyzer test is complex and should be carefully considered. Here are some points to consider:

Reasons to Take the Breathalyzer Test

Implied Consent Laws: In Maryland, like in many states, there are implied consent laws. These laws mean that by obtaining a driver’s license, individuals agree to submit to a breathalyzer test if suspected of driving under the influence. Refusing to take the test can result in administrative penalties such as license suspension. For example, subject to the existence of reasonable grounds to detain and confiscate one’s license for driving under the influence or impaired, one is subject, for a first-time refusal, to a license suspension of 270 days unless one enrolls in the MVA’s ignition interlock program.

Potential for Mitigation: If you are confident that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal limit, taking the breathalyzer test can potentially provide evidence in your favor, leading to a quicker resolution of your case. It might also provide grounds for reduced charges (driving while impaired versus driving while under the influence) or penalties.

Avoiding Additional Penalties: Refusal to take the breathalyzer test can result in administrative penalties such as license suspension (see above), even if you are later found not guilty of DUI. By taking the test, you might avoid these additional penalties.

Reasons to Refuse the Breathalyzer Test

Accuracy Concerns: Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate and can produce false positives. Factors such as medical conditions, medications, or even certain foods can affect the results. If you believe the test might yield an inaccurate reading, you might choose to refuse.

Legal Defense Strategy: By refusing the breathalyzer test, your defense attorney might have more options for challenging the evidence against you. Without a breathalyzer result, the prosecution might have a weaker case, especially if other evidence is inconclusive.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to take the breathalyzer test in Maryland following a DUI stop depends on individual circumstances, including the level of confidence in one’s sobriety, potential legal strategies, and the willingness to accept the consequences of refusal. It’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can provide guidance based on the specific details of your case.

The foregoing is general information, for educational purposes, and is not intended as legal advice.