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PAS versus Breathalyzer regarding DUI

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Drunk Driving

If a Maryland police officer makes a traffic stop and asks the driver to exit his or her vehicle, the officer likely suspects the driver of intoxication. Such stops often occur after a police officer sees a vehicle veer over the yellow line, a driver using the wrong turn signal or someone driving at night without headlights. Once a driver has stepped out of a vehicle, the officer might ask him or her to submit to a breath test for preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) to assess probable cause for a DUI arrest. 

This is separate from a Breathalyzer test, which is typically administered after an arrest. Police use a PAS device during a traffic stop to detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. A positive result typically constitutes probable cause to make a DUI arrest. 

PAS devices are unreliable and can produce false positives  

Various products, as well as some health conditions, can trigger a false positive for alcohol on a PAS device. This is why many states prohibit PAS results from being used as evidence in a DUI case. Maryland drivers will want to be aware of their rights, which include the right to decline a request to take a PAS test during a traffic stop.  

Maryland operates under implied consent laws regarding Breathalyzer tests 

Anyone who signs a Maryland driver’s license consents to taking a Breathalyzer, blood or urine test following a DUI arrest. Refusal to comply activates an automatic driver’s license suspension. However, refusing to take a PAS test during a traffic stop does not and carries no penalties. An individual who is unsure of DUI laws or how to defend themself can schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney for guidance.