Is it smart to refuse a blood alcohol test to avoid DWI charges?

It is a question that many drivers ask when they are pulled over because of suspected drunk driving: Do they have to take a breathalyzer test? In some cases, Maryland residents may be able to refuse a breathalyzer test, though that choice does come with consequences. Law enforcement officers may still be able to obtain a warrant for your blood, urine or breath even if you refuse a preliminary screening. Refusal may ultimately help your DWI case, though it could also lead to unnecessary license suspension.

The consequences for refusing a blood test are generally far less severe than those for a DUI charge. For example, refusing a test could lead to an automatic suspension for up to a year, depending on the number of previous violations. Thus, those drivers who may have a blood alcohol content far above the legal limit of 0.08 percent may be better served to consider breath test refusal, especially considering the penalties for high-BAC drunk driving.

In some jurisdictions, officers may forcibly draw your blood for a BAC test if you fail to consent. This generally occurs when a defendant has been involved in a major crash. Forced blood draws always require a warrant, though they are rarely performed.

Refusing to take a BAC test does not mean that you are automatically off the hook for your DUI charge, though. Officers can compile other evidence to bring against you in court, including observations about your behavior. Ultimately, breath test refusal is only advisable in certain select circumstances. Drivers must consider their level of intoxication and legal restrictions before refusing a test — although you may be able to call an attorney before submitting to a breathalyzer.

Source: FindLaw, “Should I Take a Blood Test or a Breathalyzer Test if I am Asked” Sep. 17, 2014