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Maryland expands its ignition interlock program

Everyone makes mistakes, whether that is forgetting to lock a door or driving after having one too many drinks. Although driving while impaired can carry a criminal conviction in Maryland, people should not have to unduly suffer for their mistakes. Unfortunately, many in the Maryland legislature do not agree and have decided to expand its burdensome and expensive ignition interlock program.

An ignition interlock is a device installed in the cars of many people convicted of alcohol -related motor vehicle offenses and, according to the Maryland State Police superintendent, it is meant to reduce recidivism. Despite Maryland's claim that it has the highest number per capita of ignition interlock program participants on the East Coast, the Maryland legislature has passed the 2011 Drunk Driving Reduction Act with the aim to increase participation in the already taxing ignition interlock program.

This program creates huge problems for anyone convicted of an alcohol-related offense in Maryland. Drivers must choose from one of five vendors to install and purchase the interlock device. Many reports have said that the interlock device and the installation and rental fees are quite expensive and can quickly accrue. The drivers must also regularly have their interlock devices calibrated. Maryland law requires drivers download the data collected from their device with their vendor every 30 days. This information is automatically sent to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

The new Drunk Driving Reduction Act has also expanded who must install an ignition interlock. Motorists with two alcohol convictions in five years, drivers under the age of 21, and any driver convicted of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher must enroll in the program or their driver's licenses will be suspended or revoked.

These new changes to an old and burdensome system will now affect even more drivers who have made a mistake and are paying for it long after a conviction.

Source: Southern Maryland Online, "Maryland's Drunk Driver Ignition Interlock Program Requires More Participation," Nov. 2, 2011

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013