Once you are stopped for suspicion of DUI or DWI, you have certain legal rights to protect your freedom and your license to drive, but responsibilities also attach. For example, the officer will ask you to perform several field sobriety tests, including a preliminary breath test on the street. While you are under no legal obligation to perform any of these tests, many drivers still choose to attempt perform the tests. The problem with field sobriety tests is that they are awkward physical exercises of dexterity and concentration offered under extremely tense circumstances. Most drivers could not adequately perform the tests under ideal circumstances, much less on the side of a busy road in the early morning hours. These Maryland DUI and DWI field sobriety tests are usually conducted on the side of the road in the dark of night when the driver is already nervous and anxious. When drivers attempt these DUI and DWI field sobriety tests, the police officer is instructed to take copious notes of infractions which are subsequently used in court to help convict the driver of their DUI charge. More often then not, when you do something right, it does not appear anywhere in the officer’s report. Therefore, do not agree to take the field sobriety test (FST); politely decline and do not assist the officer in building a case against you.
If you have already taken the FST, do not be concerned. In the officer’s zeal to build his case against you, we have found the arresting officer may not administer the field sobriety tests correctly as instructed under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) protocols by which they were trained. Mr. Robinson is also trained and certified to administer the same FST tests just like the Maryland State Police.
You may be asked to provide a breath sample on the side of the road, what is referred to as a Preliminary Breath Test. A Maryland Driver is not required to perform this test under Maryland Law 16-205.2. The refusal to take this test is not admissible against you; if you do elect to give a breath sample, this result is also not admissible against you in a Maryland Court. Either way, there are special rights that the Maryland Driver has regarding this test under Maryland Law 16-205.2 which the officer is required to inform you about, typically in written format. If he fails to do so, this may be helpful to your defense on a number of different levels. The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) however, should not be confused with the breath test that the officer will ask you to perform at the police barracks. No matter what you “blow” on the PBT, you will be asked to give another sample at the barracks after you have been advised of additional rights under Maryland Law 16-205.1. These rights will be given to you on a form known as a DR-15. Again, Maryland Law requires all drivers to be advised of these specific rights, in writing, prior to any breathalyzer test being administered to a Maryland Driver. If the officer fails to advise the driver of these rights, in writing which you sign, the results of the driver’s test will not be admissible in a Maryland Court. The procedure and the results of the driver’s breath test at the police barracks are very important as often times they can be the strongest piece of evidence to convict a Driver of drunk driving in Maryland, DUI/DWI. Maryland Law 21-902.
In addition to the foregoing, the police are trained to make observations about the driver’s personal appearance (slurred speech, watery eyes, breath, clothes) and more importantly, any admissions the driver makes. That means, just like on TV, anything the driver says, can and will be used against them in Court. Please bear this in mind when answering questions posed by the police. By far, the best policy in any type of police encounter, including a Maryland DUI/DWI arrest, is not to say anything until receiving the advice of a competent Maryland DUI Lawyer. Do not answer questions regarding what you had to drink! Importantly, the driver is advised that you have an absolute right to speak with a Maryland DUI Attorney of your choosing prior to taking any field test (which you should not do) or giving any breath sample. Maryland Law is clear that Drivers have a right to speak with counsel at the time of or shortly following their arrest, but prior to any breath sample. Shockingly, the Police will not advise you of this right upon your arrest. It is up to you to know your rights and to ask to speak with a competent and experienced Maryland DUI Attorney.
If you or a friends has been arrested on a DUI or DWI charge in Baltimore or throughout the state of Maryland, you must seek competent and aggressive legal representation. You have legal rights which must be exercised on a timely basis, or you will lose them.
The Law Offices of Bruce M. Robinson, P.A. have been successfully defending DUI and DWI cases for over a decade in the Baltimore and surrounding counties of Maryland.