GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN SIGNED TOUGH NEW DWI LAW; NOW IS IN EFFECT – Maryland got serious with Noah’s Law, now impaired drivers will be put through the mill; IF prosecutors do their jobs
House Bill 707: Drunk and Drugged Driving Offenses—Penalties
The 2019 session was the third year in a row in which Governor Hogan introduced the Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act. This legislation includes provisions from the governor’s proposal and increases maximum penalties to 10 years for individuals convicted of a drunk or drugged driving offense on three or more prior occasions as well as on impaired drivers convicted of causing death or a life-threatening injury on their second and/or subsequent offense.
Maryland prosecutors pass out plea deals like candy to impaired drivers
ARE MARYLAND’S STATES ATTORNEYS SIMPLY TOO LAZY TO TAKE DUI CASES TO TRIAL?
Drunk and drug-impaired drivers shatter the lives of individuals and families in communities across Maryland. From 2013 to 2017, on average, there were more than 6,900 impaired driving crashes each year, resulting in nearly 3,300 injuries and 160 fatalities in Maryland. This loss of life represents nearly
one-third (31%) of all traffic fatalities in the state. To combat this threat to public safety, Maryland employs a comprehensive approach, defined in our Strategic Highway Safety Plan1, that combines strict laws, license sanctions, a robust ignition interlock program, DUI courts, high-visibility law enforcement and outreach to the public.
Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program is an effective tool to help prevent the devastating consequences that can result when an impaired driver gets behind the wheel. Research has shown that drivers who have ignition interlock devices installed are less likely to commit a repeat drunk-driving offense while using ignition interlock than drunk drivers who do not have an interlock device installed and that all offender ignition interlock laws can reduce the number of fatal traffic crashes.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program prevented more than 3,200 attempts to start or operate a vehicle where the driver’s blood alcohol concentration4 (BAC) was greater than 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood (g/dL) – the legal limit in Maryland. Ignition interlock continues to save lives by preventing impaired drivers from driving on Maryland roads.
The Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, also known as Noah’s Law, makes Maryland’s roadways safer by mandating ignition interlock for impaired drivers who are convicted of certain impaired driving offenses, by increasing administrative driver’s license sanctions and strengthening the Ignition Interlock Program. The implementation of Noah’s Law has resulted in increased participation in the Ignition Interlock Program, particularly among drivers opting into the program for the first time.
Sanctions after Conviction
Convicted impaired drivers face both criminal sanctions, including fines and incarceration, and additional administrative licensing sanctions, such as points on their driving record that may result in a license suspension or revocation. Prior to October 1, 2016, only drivers convicted of a §21-902(a) violation within five years of a §21-902(a) or (d) violation were mandated to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program. Also, prior to October 1, 2016, drivers convicted of §21-902(a) with a high BAC and drivers convicted of §21-902(a) while under the age of 21 could only have their license suspensions modified if they agreed to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program.
Mandates for Interlock Participation
Noah’s Law expanded the mandates requiring participation in the Ignition Interlock Program for Maryland to include all drivers convicted of §21-902(a). It also mandates participation in the program for conviction for §21-902(b) and (c) violations, if the offense involved certain conditions, such as having refused the chemical test or while transporting a minor under the age of 16. Ignition Interlock Program participation is now also required for drivers who are convicted of homicide or life-threatening injury by a motor vehicle while DUI or DWI. The law also mandates participation in the program for Maryland drivers convicted in other states of equivalent charges.
Drivers that are required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program must hold a valid Driver’s License and successfully complete their program assignment before becoming eligible for a non-interlock-restricted license. Drivers must participate in the program for six months if it is the first time the driver’s participation is mandated. The duration that the driver is required to participate increases if the driver is required to participate in the program for a subsequent violation to one year for the second mandatory referral and three years for the third mandatory referral.
Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program
Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program, one of the nation’s first, is managed by MDOT MVA and provides Maryland drivers with an alternative to license suspension or revocation and allows them to continue driving while reducing the likelihood they will drive impaired by alcohol. Ignition interlock devices connect a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath-testing unit that measures a driver’s breath alcohol level. The driver must blow into the device, allowing it to capture a breath sample and calculate the driver’s BAC. If the device detects a BAC greater than 0.025, it will prevent the vehicle from starting.
After a driver has passed this initial test and the car has been started, random rolling retests are required to be certain the driver has not consumed alcohol.
Ignition interlock devices installed in participants’ vehicles store the results of breath tests and other data which is downloaded by the ignition interlock service provider when the driver brings the vehicle in for monthly service and calibration. These data are securely transferred to MDOT MVA’s computer system, which automatically reviews the data and identifies potential violations. These potential violations are forwarded to the Ignition Interlock Program staff for review and appropriate action. This automated process allows MDOT MVA to efficiently monitor participants and provide ongoing feedback to program violators.