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Drunk Driving Laws: A Maryland Case Study

posted on Wed, May 13 2015 5:26 pm by The Network for Public Health Law

The Network was recently contacted by a requester in Maryland who wanted to know if there had been any significant legislative changes to the Maryland Drunk Driving Reduction Act since its passage in 2011, or whether there had been other legislative changes in the state relevant to the issue of drunk driving.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are close to 300,000 drunk drivers on American streets every day, and according to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people die each day as a result of drunk driving crashes. In an attempt to address this serious public health issue, the 2011 Drunk Driving Reduction Act in Maryland increased the use of ignition interlock devices, which - require a blood alcohol content (BAC) test in order to start a vehicle’s ignition. The law required any driver convicted of a driving under the influence (DUI) as a result of a BAC test returning a result of .15 or higher to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, as well as other measures.

The Network researched the issue and found several instances where Maryland’s laws on driving under the influence have changed since 2011:

  • HB1015 (2014) (CH0631) expands the definition of participants in the Ignition Interlock System Program to include individuals who drive or attempt to drive under the influence of alcohol or impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor under 16, even if their BAC at the time was less than the legal limit of 0.15.
  • SB0087 (2014) (CH0017) repeals the requirement that the Motor Vehicle Administration impose a 45 days of suspension to be served before participation in the Ignition Interlock System Program by certain repeat drunk or drugged driving offenders; alters the required statements contained in the notice of suspension; increases the period of time that a person must participate in the Program from 3 months to 1 year in order for the person to qualify for certain exemptions dealing with program notices and hardship provisions; and prohibits certain repeat drunk or drugged driving offenders from operating a motor vehicle in the course of employment without installation of an ignition interlock system.
  • HB1334 (2012) (CH0434) is not directly related to the content of the 2011 Drunk Driving Reduction Act, but it increases the penalty and fine for causing a life-threatening injury to another while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance from 2 years to 3 years, and from $3,000 to $5,000.
  • SB0026 (2014) (CH0005) is also not directly related to the content of the 2011 Drunk Driving Reduction Act per se, but it does increase the penalties for refusing to take an alcohol test to include disqualification of the person’s commercial instructional driving permit, should they have one.
  • HB0430 (2015) is a bill that has been passed during the 2015 session but has not yet been signed by Governor Hogan. It would alter the administrative sanctions for certain alcohol–related administrative per se offenses applicable to a person who was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of another person by imposing automatic license suspension periods and, in the most serious cases, automatic revocation of the driver’s license.
  • Additionally, there was a bill in the 2015 session (SB0395) that would have extended the changes made in HB1015 (2014). This bill stated that drivers who were convicted of certain impaired driving offenses would, as a matter of law, be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program regardless of whether there was a minor under 16 in the vehicle at the time of offense or not. This bill did not move out of committee.

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