Maryland DUI Blood Tests
If a law enforcement officer stops your vehicle and suspects that you may be intoxicated, you may be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. To arrest you, that officer must be able to demonstrate that he or she had probable cause to believe that you were committing a DUI. Mere observations of your behavior are often not enough to satisfy that probable cause; thus, officers have other methods of collecting additional evidence to demonstrate that you were under the influence.
For example, if an officer suspects that you may have been drinking alcohol, he or she may perform field sobriety tests, administer a breath test, or ask you to submit to chemical testing of your blood. If the officer believes that you may be impaired by illegal drugs, he or she will almost certainly request a blood test, as drugs may not be concretely detected by other test methods. You may wonder what your rights are regarding these chemical tests and what role the test results may play in any ensuing case. To learn more about blood tests and your rights at a DUI stop, consult with a Maryland DUI lawyer today.
When You Must Submit to a Blood Test
Maryland is one of many states that has an implied consent law regarding chemical testing associated with DUI. The law states that residents of Maryland make certain agreements when they apply for and accept a license to drive a vehicle. These include:
- The agreement not to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
- The agreement to submit to a chemical BAC test when requested by a law enforcement officer.
Many Maryland drivers do not even realize that they have inherently agreed to DUI blood tests simply by holding a driver’s license. However, you may still refuse a chemical test, though that refusal will come with certain additional consequences.
The first time you refuse a blood test, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) will suspend your driver’s license for 120 days. For a second refusal, your license could be suspended for a year. There are ways to challenge these suspensions, though they require you to follow specific appeal procedures in a very timely fashion.
How the Results of a Blood Test May Be Used against You
If you submit to a blood test, law enforcement will use the results to show probable cause for your arrest, and prosecutors may use the results as concrete evidence that you were under the influence in subsequent criminal proceedings. For example, if your BAC registers at 0.08 or higher, you are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol.
Chemical testing becomes slightly more complicated, however, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. There is no set limit (such as 0.08 BAC with alcohol) for signs of drug use in your blood that will be determinative in showing that your driving was actually impaired. Additionally, traces of many drugs may remain in your system for days or even weeks after you used them. For this reason, your chemical test may detect drug use from the past and may not have any bearing on your level of impairment at the time of your arrest.
Defenses Based on Forensic Lab Errors
Once a law enforcement agency takes a sample of your blood, that sample must be properly tested and processed by a forensic laboratory. Forensic labs are operated by humans, and thus, the potential for human error exists. Some of the common mistakes committed by forensic labs include:
- Improper storage of blood samples
- Contamination of samples
- Mislabeling or confusion, leading to the testing of the wrong sample
- Unauthorized technicians handling samples
- Improper delay in testing of a sample
There are many more possible forensic lab errors that may occur, and any such error may be used in court to render the blood test results inadmissible against you.
Contact a Maryland DUI Attorney Today
An experienced Maryland DUI lawyer will have the knowledge and resources necessary to attack the results of blood tests in DUI cases to significantly limit the evidence against you. Such attacks may lead to substantially lesser consequences or even the complete dismissal of your case. If you are facing DUI charges and submitted to a blood test, contact our office for assistance as soon as possible.