Howard County DUI Myths

Several myths permeate citizen’s ideas of what is involved in consuming alcohol, the accuracy of breathalyzers, and an officer’s ability to arrest. The following page will address the most common myths. To learn more and discuss a DUI charge, consult a Howard County DUI lawyer today.

Myth: You Should Take The Roadside Breath Test to Prove Sobriety

Verdict: False.

The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) an officer administers on the side of the road is unreliable, has not been calibrated in any way, and is different than the accurate breathalyzer test at the police station. In fact a preliminary breath test is not even considered at court as it does not meet the standards necessary for a valuable, reliable breath test to be credited. With that said, it can be used in an administrative hearing, which has the power to suspend the driver’s license.

Additionally, even if the driver’s PBT comes up with zeros, but the officer is convinced the driver is impaired in some way, they will likely conduct a pat down for drug use. There are plenty of officers that will not believe the driver’s insistence of sobriety on top of the preliminary test because they will be convinced that the driver is under the influence in some fashion.

Myth: Breathalyzers Are Always Accurate

Verdict: Mostly true.

The intoximeter, or breathalyzer, the State of Maryland relies upon is state of the art if it is tested, maintained, and operated properly by a chemist. It is considered one of the single most reliable things an officer is given for their work and the presumption is that they are incredibly consistent in giving an accurate BAC.

However, it is important to ask for the records of the machine. Pay attention to the lot number and serial number, ensuring everything matches is lined up. If all is in line, has a history of working properly, and has had no issues in the past, it will be given credibility in the courtroom.

Myth: BAC is a Good Indicator of Driver Impairment

Verdict: Somewhat false.

A person’s blood alcohol level ensures that alcohol is or is not in a person’s system. There is a definite correlation between BAC and the level of impairment a person experiences. The higher the BAC, the more impaired an individual is, and the lower their BAC, the less they are impaired.

DUIs rely purely on the number measured (e.g. 08, 0.12, 0.15, 0.2) but some individuals handle their alcohol better than others, because people are just built differently.

The BAC impairment level is an arbitrary number chosen by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration after conducting some research. Currently, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. Not too long ago the legal BAC was 0.1 or 0.15, and there are plenty of rumors suggesting it might go down to 0.05 in the future.

Myth: Officers Can Only Justify a DUI Arrest If a Person is Really Drunk

Verdict: False.

Within the State of Maryland there are driving under the influence as well as driving while impaired charges. In certain DUI cases, states have gone to trial at 0.06, 0.07, and even a 0.05 BAC for individuals over 21. Individuals under 21 may be charged if a BAC is recorded as low as 0.02.

Myth: It is Hard For An Officer to Tell if Someone is Only Buzzed

Verdict: Mostly false.

The presumption is that the closer a person is to zero, the easier it is for them to move about, and therefore more difficult for an officer to notice. However, buzzed driving could simply be a 0.06 and under the legal limit but an officer can still charge them for it.

Most officers would write up in the probable cause statement that in their knowledge, training, and experience, they suspected impairment due to alcohol. Indications of impairment can include:

  • Smell emanating from the vehicle or person.
  • Slurred, stammered, or delayed speech.
  • Fumbling with small motor skill actions such as searching for license and registration.
  • Failed standard field sobriety tests.

Myth: A Person Cannot Be Arrested For DUI In Their Own Garage or Driveway

Verdict: False

If an officer has been following the driver prior to them  entering the driveway and are furthering the investigation they observed they can conduct an arrest in the individual’s driveway.

However, if a person is parked in the lines of the driveway, asleep in the back seat of the car, with locked, it can be presumed if it is very cold out and they were taking shelter in the vehicle. Even in these cases there is precedent that while they should not be processed, they could still be arrested and taken into custody.

Myth: Every Drink Has The Same Effect On a Person’s Body

Verdict: False.

Wine has stayed consistent over the years, but beer and liquor are substantially stronger than they used to be. Additionally, liquor is now infused with sugars and other things that make it easier for a body to absorb all of the alcohol. This makes it harder for the body to break down and digest the alcohol. A beer, a glass of wine, and a shot do not have equal reactions to the body because of the variations of alcohol to volume percentage. For example, a beer can be between 4% and 10%, while a shot could be as high as 100 proof, or lower, at 80 or 60 proof. Several other factors affect a body’s ability to absorb alcohol including the last time they ate.