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What is implied consent?

If you are a licensed driver in the state of Maryland, you should be aware of the concept of implied consent.

What implied consent means is that all drivers by virtue of being granted a license have given their consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs. If you are reasonably suspected by the police to be driving while impaired, they can legally request that you submit to a drug recognition expert to have your blood tested.

However, no one may be compelled to take that test, as that would violate certain rights against potential self-incrimination. But that doesn’t mean that you can simply refuse and walk away freely.

If a police officer submits his or her certified statement that a suspect refused to be tested, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration imposes a driver’s license suspension. Those who submit and are found to have higher than .08 percent blood alcohol concentration will also have their licenses suspended.

What does this mean on a practical level? Should you submit or refuse? It all depends on your circumstances. If you had one drink hours ago and got stopped on your way home from a party, it may be better to submit. On the other hand, if you drank a 6-pack and popped a couple pills before smoking a joint, you may want to reconsider.

Your best bet in these circumstances is to delay testing of all kinds until you can consult with your criminal defense attorney. But this is not always going to be permissible. Make your request, but realize that ultimately you may have to decide whether to submit to BAC testing before you have the opportunity to seek counsel.

Source: Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, “Maryland Driver's Manual,” accessed March 11, 2016

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