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Maryland's new drunk driving law

Maryland has a relatively new law governing drunk driving that imposes new requirements for drivers convicted of a drunk driving offense. The law, which went into effect last October, expands the state's ignition interlock program for those convicted of various DUI offenses.

The law sets time periods for participating in the ignition interlock program. An ignition interlock is a device installed in a vehicle which prevents the vehicle from starting when the device detects a designated level of alcohol on the motorist's breath.

Six months is required for the first offense. A second incident requires two years while three years is required for a third and subsequent offenses. Drivers receiving a DWI after refusing to take a chemical test will also have to participate in the program. The law sets a one year period for those refusing a chemical test.

The law also allows individuals to agree to participate in this program for other offenses. These include drivers suspected of committing a driving offense related to alcohol who refuse a chemical test or have a test result exceeding the legal blood alcohol content level. They can immediately elect to participate instead of asking for an administrative hearing to contest the charge.

The law requires these drivers to successfully complete the ignition interlock program. Three consecutive months must be completed with no violations, no adverse breath results, before they are released from the program.

License suspension periods for administrative chemical test failures and refusal were also increased. Enhanced penalty periods still govern drivers under 21 years old, motorists who had an alcohol restriction imposed earlier, drivers with a commercial driver's license or who were driving these vehicles and motorists with earlier drunk driving convictions.

Drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated or impaired have rights to contest these charges. A criminal defense attorney may be able to assist these motorists by defending their rights in court.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation, "MVA's Highway Safety Program/Impaired driving prevention," accessed on April 16, 2017

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