Question

What Are My Rights If I Am Stopped For Suspected DUI In Maryland?

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Answered by: James N. Papirmeister

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Answer

This is a very common question, as many people do not know what they can and cannot do when stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). The answer given here is not widely known.

What You Have To Do

First of all, you must be polite and courteous to the law enforcement officer. Provide your correct name, driver’s license and vehicle registration information when it is requested of you. After that, things change.

What You Do Not Have To Do

Beyond what is noted above, you should not answer any questions or volunteer information about where you came from or whether you had anything to drink. Politely decline any additional questions unless they pertain to your correct address and date of birth, both of which also appear on your driver’s license.

  • Most importantly, you should NOT submit to any field sobriety test whatsoever. At all.

This includes the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the walk-and-turn test (WAT), the one-leg stand (OLS), or any other so-called field sobriety test that an officer is demanding that you submit to. This also applies to any handheld breath test on the scene, called a preliminary breath test (PBT). None of the field sobriety tests, the PBT or any other field tests are required by law. They are strictly voluntary, and they are never helpful for your case.

The Only Required Test

The only test the law requires you to submit to is the official breath test back at the station. Before you take this test, you must be preadvised on a very lengthy advice of rights form about all of the sanctions that will accrue from refusing the breath test as opposed to taking an official breath test and failing it.

In general, for any driver, especially a commercial driver, refusing the official test has worse sanctions than taking the breath test and failing it. The law requires that you take the breath test and you already agreed, by being a licensed driver in Maryland, to take the test. This is what they call the “implied consent law.” It is even written on the back of your Maryland driver’s license.

However, before taking the official breath test, you do have the right to ask to call and consult with a lawyer before making any decision about the test. Attorney James Papirmeister can step in and advise you of your rights and help explain further what the consequences are of refusing or taking the test. In any situation where you have been accused of drunk driving, it is important to talk to a lawyer who knows the laws and can work to protect your rights.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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