Last Updated: 04.15.2020

Breath Test Maryland DUI Laws

Breath Test machine (intoximeter or intoxilyzer) example

This post is dedicated to providing a simple yet reliable explanation of the science behind the Breath Test aka “The Intoxilyzer.”  See here for the company that makes breath test equipment.  If you are still wondering whether you should “blow,” please refer to our previous blog post here.

Breath Test: You might ask yourself, how did I get here?

Assume for the sake of this post that you have been pulled over in Maryland and arrested on the side of the road for suspicion of violating Maryland DUI laws (driving under the influence of alcohol) or Maryland DWI laws (Driving while impaired by alcohol). You’re now at the police station, and (for whatever reason) decide to submit to the breath test.

Breath Test: Don’t forget your favorite Maryland Lawyer before you BLOW!

Please remember, that you are permitted to call your favorite Baltimore lawyer before deciding whether to take a breath test, this is your right to an attorney!

The Myth behind the Machine (Breath Test)

You will be asked to sit in front of a machine, and in Maryland, it will likely be the Intoxilyzer (or EC/IR). The Intoxilyzer measures the alcohol concentration of air exhaled by the individual submitting to the breath test. You will be asked to “blow,” thereby exhaling the breath from body into the machine. Specifically, the air in the breath sample will be coming from 3 distinct places: (1) lungs; (2) throat/airway and (3) mouth/nasal.  The air pushed into the machine will enter the machine’s sample chamber. The process to analyze the breath test sample is by infrared spectroscopy or “IR.” Inside of the Intoxilyzer, an infrared energy beam will be emitted into the sample chamber. The machine works by calculating the energy lost by the IR beam as it passes through the sample chamber as a result of the presence of alcohol. The greater the content of alcohol in the breath, the greater the impact on the wavelength of the IR beam. Once the IR beam has passed through the sample chamber, the results are recorded on the computer and a breath test strip is printed out with the results.

For more information on how the machine functions, check out: this link.

Breath Test: 20-minute Abs…I mean 20 minute observation period:

Police are supposed to monitor you for 20 minutes before the breath test occurs. During this time, you should be prohibited from ingesting any substances including food, pennies, beverages, gum, tobacco, etc. The purpose of this rule is that the ingestion of any such substance can hamper the results of the breath test (Intoxilyzer).

 Man v. Machine

For some reason, every single time a conversation comes up involving violating Maryland DUI laws, everyone seems to disregard the advice of your Baltimore lawyer, and instead rely on their ONE friend who got ONE DUI. Let me tell you, if your one friend was so smart, he/she would not have gotten the DUI, so please listen to your Maryland lawyer who went to law school and has handled hundreds of drunk driving cases.

The myths of the Intoxilyzer breath test…

  • Penny in Mouth:  Fiction – does absolutely nothing except for providing your body with an ample of bacteria from every single dirty human being who touched it.
  • Peanut butter: Fiction – does not work, but if eaten in the 20 minute observation period could effect the test.
  • Mouth Wash: Fiction – This would affect the “mouth alcohol” rating, but if the Breath Test is conducted correctly, then this would not work. And, does Client X really want to argue to the Judge that it was just mouth wash.
  • Eat a Footlong Sub: Fiction – see peanut butter above; and do you want to throw up a sub later?
  • Drinking on the side of the road after getting pulled over: Fiction! Do you really want to argue to a Judge that you decided to get drunk after being pulled over just to avoid a DUI.
  • Breath Test technician or maintenance officer did not comply with all the rules and procedures to operate the equipment: FACT!  Each police department is required to maintain maintenance logs and follow certain procedures for their breath test equipment.  If they fail to do so, the results can be skewed or inaccurate.  Having a Baltimore lawyer who is familiar with Maryland DUI laws is key to exposing these flaws because this type of discovery is not routinely provided by the State’s Attorneys.

The end result

There will always be gimmicks, or ways to “beat the test,” but remember, once you are arrested for DUI or DWI, you are likely going to be charged and spend the night in jail. The best way to “beat the test” is to call your favorite ENLawyer for advice.