Motorists stopped for drunk driving will be allowed to meet face to face with their lawyers, but may not take private breath-alcohol tests under an interim policy established this week by the Maryland State Police superintendent.
Col. Wilbert Travers issued the order after Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Bruce C. Williams ruled that state troopers must allow personal meetings between a lawyer and an accused drunk driver, according to James Doyle, an assistant attorney general representing state police. Doyle said that the police set the policy because they are concerned that drunk-driving suspects would refuse to take the state breathalyzer exam if they failed a portable test given by lawyers.
In Maryland, motorists who refuse a breathalyzer test may have their licenses suspended for up to 60 days, but a driver refusing the test could avoid stiffer penalties and charges of drunk driving.
Judge Williams issued the restraining order Aug. 19 in a case brought by Gill Cochran, an Annapolis lawyer who tested his clients' alcohol levels with a portable device before advising them whether to take the police test.
But Travers' directive has raised Cochran's ire. Cochran, who is also a city alderman, said he planned to file a contempt-of-court motion against Travers because he believes the interim policy violates the judge's order.
Under the old police policy set by Travers in March 1984, persons who were stopped for drunk driving were allowed to speak with their lawyers by telephone, but not meet with them in person.