Drunk driving kills thousands of people every year across the U.S. and Maryland is no exception to this sad statistic. Whether you live in Annapolis, Baltimore, the District or Columbia, MD, every week it is possible to read another in the steady stream of news article covering fatal traffic accidents caused by motorists impaired by alcohol, prescription narcotics and illicit drugs. Most every Maryland injury attorney has represented his or her fair share of victims and their families following a tragic car or truck wreck.
A bill making its way through the Maryland legislature may help to reduce the number of injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma and spinal cord damage, caused by repeat drunk driving offenders. According to reports, two bills are part of the state’s Drunk Driving Elimination Act, which was created in an attempt to reduce the incidence of DUI across Maryland.
One of the bills would require every convicted drunk driving offender to have an ignition interlock installed in his or her vehicle, and to remain in use for a state-mandated period of time — possibly three months. This potential law, which would affect even first-time DUI offenders, is similar to laws on the books in other states that require the use of ignition interlock devices for people responsible for automobile and trucking-related collisions.
Even though DUI car accidents can result in death and serious, debilitating injuries some groups are against certain portions of the legislation. Not surprisingly, this bill is being opposed by the Alcohol Beverage Institute, which would prefer to have the bill be worded so that only repeat offenders or those individuals facing additional violations are required to have the interlock device attached to their vehicles.
Also going through the state legislature is another bill that would eliminate the right of a motorist to refuse a breath test when pulled over for suspicion of DUI — or if that individual is a habitual offender. Framers of the bill are facing opposition from personal rights advocates who have a history of defending motorists’ right to lawfully refuse a breath test. Proponents of the second bill say that some defendants in drunken driving cases use their breath test refusal as part of a defense tactic, which can result in a civil penalty such as a license suspension as opposed to being subjected to a criminal trial for drunk driving.
Voicing a painful message: Don’t drink and drive, HometownGlenburnie.com, February 27, 2010