2015 may just the year of the ignition interlock law. Both California and Kentucky are looking to strengthen their driving under the influence (DUI) laws with new bills on the table, and now Maryland is considering doing the same.
Maryland Senate Bill 395 would require any convicted drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they drive. This all offender ignition interlock law would replace the current law that only requires offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher to install the device. After a new law passed in 2014, any offender who is arrested while driving drunk with a child passenger is also required to install an ignition interlock device.
Maryland DUI laws already include a list of harsh penalties including jail time up to one year for first offenders, fines up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension for six months, and the possibility of vehicle impoundment. If the driver is transporting a minor, the fines double – they’ll pay fines up to $2,000 and may be in jail for up to two years.
But those penalties aren’t enough to stop drunk drivers in the state, and support for the new bill is growing. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility recently wrote a two-part series on why first offender ignition interlock law is important for Maryland. They cite statistics showing that ignition interlocks reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive again by 64%, and they recommend that Maryland join the long list of states who are imposing all offender ignition interlock laws.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also stands in support of the potential new law, and with 141 alcohol-related deaths in Maryland in the past year, it can’t come a moment too soon. For more information on Maryland ignition interlocks, take a look at Guardian Interlock’s Maryland page.