Ignition Interlocks Save Lives, Say Two Maryland State Senators

maryland-could-require-ignition-interlocksThe Next Maryland legislative session might be an important one for that state’s fight against drunk driving. Two legislators plan to introduce a bill that would make Maryland the 26th state to require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Some background: right now, a first DUI in Maryland garners a possible jail term, a fine of up to $1,000, 12 license points and a six-month suspension. A second offense increases most of these penalties and adds the requirement to install an ignition interlock.  There is also an alcohol assessment and treatment program.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin and State Delegate Ben Kramer plan to introduce a bill which will require all those convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock on their vehicles. Senator

ignition-interlock-from-lifesafer
An ignition interlock from LifeSafer

Raskin is on record stating that license suspensions on their own are not good prevention: people regularly drive despite the lack of a license. And if they tend to drink and drive, a suspension is little help.

Only first time DUI offenders who were arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .14 or higher are put into the interlock program. The proposed legislation would mean that anyone with a BAC of .08 or above would be using the device for a while.

Other legislators, such as Delegates Shane Robinson and David Fraser-Hidalgo and Senator Cheryl Kagan, are planning on introducing other measures to protect citizens from impaired motorists.

Ignition Interlocks for All DUI Offenders: Too Tough?

There are those who always ask if extending ignition interlocks to first offenders is too extreme. Don’t they deserve a second chance?

Our response is:

  • The offender has usually had many chances. Statistics show that by the time a drunk driver is arrested, he or she has driven impaired many times – some say as many as 80 times.
  • An interlock is not a punishment – it is a prevention. It does not keep anyone from driving, as long as they have not drunk any alcohol. It is no more a punishment than is a metal detector in the entrance to a public building.

If other legislators get on board and follow Senator Raskin’s and Delegate Kramer’s lead, 2016 should be a good year for road safety in Maryland. We eagerly await the news that they have put the number of states with all-offender ignition interlock laws into the majority.