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Legislator proposes expanding Maryland ignition-interlock law

States differ on whether the use of ignition-interlock devices should be required following a drunk driving conviction. Maryland is among the majority of states that do not make ignition interlocks mandatory for all DUI offenses.

But Maryland law does provide that courts may order someone whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .15 or more to operate only ignition-interlock-equipped vehicles for at least a year after a DUI conviction. A BAC of .15 is nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

A Maryland legislator has proposed expanding the use of ignition interlocks by making them mandatory after a Maryland DUI conviction in which a child was in the car. The proposal comes from Del. Sam Arora of Montgomery County.

Arora asserts that DUIs with children in the vehicle have been increasing in Maryland. He says they are up by ten percent.

An ignition-interlock requirement should not be viewed as a magic bullet, however. Merely passing a law to require them does not solve administrative challenges that come with imposing new requirements.

For example, such challenges can include the need for additional funding for probation officers. Those officers are typically responsible for monitoring ignition-interlock compliance.

Indeed, the fees involved in ignition-interlock programs can be considerable. The costs associated with them can unfairly burden family members of someone convicted of DUI.

There is also the question of how an ignition-interlock requirement would affect someone’s driver’s licenses. Drunk driving has both civil and criminal aspects, and the part that involves drivers’ licenses is civil in nature.

Source: “Maryland Bill Cracks Down On Drunk Drivers With Kids In Cars,” WAMU.org, 12-21-12

Additional source: “State ignition interlock laws.” NCSL, 5-12

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