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Myths in Annapolis DUI Cases

A Preliminary Breath Test, also known as a PBT, is used by law enforcement officers to test an individual’s BAC during traffic stops. While it is always best to cooperate with police officers, it is also important that an individual is aware of their rights. No one is required to take a breath test, and despite popular belief, one’s willingness to take a PBT will not mitigate the penalties they may receive should they be charged with a DUI. Individuals should contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney as soon as possible if they are facing charges for driving under the influence.

Myth: Taking a PBT is a Good Idea

A PBT is the roadside device used to test an individual’s BAC. It is inadmissible in courts, and it has no relevance whatsoever to a trial because it is solely maintained by an officer. The device is kept in a pocket or in a vehicle with a small plastic straw. It is not a controlled unit, it is not tested regularly, it does not self-test or self-authenticate, and some officers go years without ever receiving an updated model.

The device simply turns on, police officers have a person blow through it, and it turns off. There is no real harm in taking a PBT, but that score can only be used in an MVA hearing, addressing whether or not a person’s license will be suspended.

The test done at the station or barrack is the one that truly matters and the one in which a person must be advised of his or her rights. This is the test that is recorded and put down in the formal report.

Myth: Breath Tests are Reliable and Consistent

There is a lot of discussion regarding breathalyzer machines, intoximeters, and the ECIR2. The ECIR2 happens to be a good machine – it works as it should, it self-authenticates, and it self-tests. There is not much room for human error when it comes to an officer using it.

However, these machines are not completely infallible, and they can have inconsistencies. If an attorney’s client insists that the machine was wrong, the attorney should subpoena the actual file and the log of that particular unit. Then, the attorney can see that the machine has been operating properly. When was the last time it was tested? And when it was tested, did it need repairs? These are important questions to ask to ensure a false positive did not occur.

Myth: Officer’s Cannot Justify a DUI Unless Someone is Very Drunk

A DUI arrest can be related to a number of things, and the justification can come in many forms. An officer can be responding to a wellness call or an accident, but if they smell alcohol, do a standard field sobriety test, or take a breath or blood test, the arrest can be justified in certain ways. As far as a straight DUI arrest following a traffic stop, an officer just has to have what is called a reasonable, articulable suspicion to ask that person to submit to a breath test. The officer must reasonably articulate that an individual in these circumstances performing a field sobriety test is not completing it in a satisfactory manner, along with a good observation of the vehicle (such as violating a traffic law in some way), in order to show good cause for a stop.

The officer must reasonably articulate that an individual in these circumstances performing a field sobriety test is not completing it in a satisfactory manner, along with a good observation of the vehicle (such as violating a traffic law in some way), in order to show good cause for a stop.

An individual simply smelling of alcohol, admitting to drinking earlier in the evening, having bloodshot watery eyes, having slurred stammered speech, or a delayed cognitive response, could lead to a justified DUI arrest. The person does not have to be really drunk to be arrested on DUI charges.

Myth: A Person Cannot Be Arrested for a DUI in Their Driveway

A person can absolutely be arrested. Most of the time, the officers follow and observe a person’s driving. If they have observed a person driving, they are going to allow the person to drive for a little before they stop them.

A person has to give the officer a strong reason and presumption to stop the vehicle and pursue an investigative stop of the driver. The person in question has maybe violated a transportation article by speeding or not yielding, and the officer can follow the person in this case. If that mean following the person to the end of their drive, and they begin to pull into the driveway or garage, the officer can absolutely flip their lights and approach the person at that time.

A person’s driveway connects to a public road, so it is not really private property. In Annapolis, it would be a myth to think that a person is safe once they get to the driveway, but the fact is, if they parked and walked in the house, closed the doors and went inside, how are they going to prove that the person did not go inside to keep drinking? There are certainly a lot of factors that could roll into a situation like this, and each should be addressed individually.

Myth: DUI’s Can Be Hidden

Some people used to believe a myth in regards to DUI cases in Annapolis that if they had a penny under their tongue, it would affect a person’s breathalyzer score. Others believed that if they immediately started chewing gum or smoking that it could cover up odor, or that drinking coffee would help them sober up. None of this is true. These things only mask the truth, but an officer who has been trained to look for these signals can see through them. They are likely going to detain the person for long enough so that they can parse through what is real and what is not. A person is not going to be able to escape in those matters by hiding their DUI.