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Breath test refusal at issue for Baltimore man on trial

Each day, thousands of drivers are pulled over by police officers. If the police officer suspects the driver has been driving while intoxicated, he may ask the pulled over motorist to perform a field sobriety test. If the officer believes the person has not passed the field sobriety test, he may ask for a breathalyzer test.

In Maryland, it is legal to refuse a breathalyzer test. Many people who are asked to perform a breathalyzer test often have an important question: Is it best to submit to a Breathalyzer test or is a breath test refusal the best option? One Baltimore, Maryland man currently on trial for drunk driving refused the Breathalyzer.

The man is accused of causing a head-on collision that caused life-threatening injuries. The victim was in a coma for several months, and after coming out of the coma is still dealing with some medical issues.

An unfortunate feature of this case is that in addition to being tried in court, the Baltimore man also is being tried by the media. Based on the description of events and characterization of the parties involved, the media reporting on this event seems to have chosen sides without the due process afforded in court.

The question of whether to submit to a Breathalyzer test or refuse one is a complicated one. The state of Maryland can impose penalties on a person who refuses a test, up to and including license suspension for refusing a Breathalyzer. These tests, however, are notoriously inaccurate due to errors on the part of those administering the test and equipment failures due to inaccurate calibration.

The important thing to note is that whether someone submits to a Breathalyzer that results in readings above the legal requirement or if someone refuses a test altogether, everyone has rights under the law, and it's important those rights are protected.

Source: WBAL-TV, "DUI trial begins for man accused of injuring Army vet," May 21, 2013

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