The penalty for drinking and driving just reached a whole new level in Maryland. “Noah’s Law” or The Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 went into effect at midnight on October 1, 2016. The new law, named after a Montgomery County Police Officer who was killed by a drunk driver, will force drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle.
In case you didn’t catch that let me say it in plain English. Starting today, for any driver in Maryland who is caught driving drunk there is no more issuing a ticket. ALL drivers found to be driving drunk will be FORCED to install a machine in their car where they have to blow into a breathalyzer before they can start their vehicle. The system will cost the driver approximately $1200. This fees affiliated with the program are non-negotiable. There is no middle ground, this law applies to the first time offender and repeat drunk driver alike.
The Ignition Interlock System Program will require a person convicted of drunk driving offenses to blow a breath to start their car. Not only do you have to enter this program and pay the fee, but each interlock system will bear the image of Officer Noah Leotta. Leotta was fatally hit by a drunk driver on a Maryland highway last December. His family heavily advocated to have this law put in place.
“It’s a huge victory,” Chuck Hurley, legislative chairman for MADD Maryland told reporters. “It’s a breakthrough that will lead to dramatic reductions in drunk-driving fatalities,” he added.
Those convicted under “Noah’s Law” will also deal with longer driver’s license suspension periods. The ignition interlock system will not only check for a .025 BAC before allowing the vehicle to start but will randomly require the driver to blow during the course of their drive. So if you think you will blow and then get behind the wheel and drink, think again. You may find yourself stuck and unable to continue to drive where you’re going. Not only will you not be able to move your car but you will have a record that you attempted to drive drunk.
Drunk driving statistics in Maryland show that on average, there are 7,884 impaired driving crashes statewide every year that result in 171 fatalities and 4,026 injuries. Drivers who are required to sign up for the Ignition Interlock System program will have to pick from one of the six providers approved by the state and pay all installation costs and monthly fees associated with the system.
Drivers convicted of the following offenses will be required to sign up for the ignition interlock program to get back on the road.
-Driving under the influence (DUI)
– Driving while impaired (DWI) while transporting a minor under the age of 16
– Driving while intoxicated with an initial Breathalyzer test refusal
– Homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI
A monthly report will be turned into the MVA on the data collected via each interlock system. The information provided to MVA will include but may not be limited to,
You the driver, your vehicle and other program information;
- Any instances where you had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC);
- Any instances where you tried to start the vehicle without taking the test;
- Any instances where you failed the rolling retest or refused to take it;
- Any bypass of the device, which is if you tampered with or disconnected the device;
- The number of times your vehicle was started and stopped;
- The distance traveled by your vehicle.
The Maryland Vehicle Administration website states that
“Participants are responsible for all costs associated with the program participation. There is a cost from the ignition interlock Service Provider for installation of the device and there is also a monthly servicing cost. Vendors have varying installation and monitoring charges. Participants are required to report to a service provider every 30 days to have the device calibrated and the data logger information downloaded.”
Just passing through Maryland and get stopped for drunk driving? The state website provides that “the law will affect anyone stopped in Maryland and cited for a DWI/DUI offense. Out of State licensee convicted of a DWI/DUI charge in a Maryland Court of Law, that conviction will be forwarded to the licensee’s home state for any penalties they deemed appropriate.”
Violations of Ignition Interlock System program include but are not limited to the following,
- Failure to have the ignition interlock device installed and obtain a Maryland driver’s license restricted to the operation only of vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device;
- Failure to appear for the required monthly monitoring visit every thirty (30) days;
- Operating a motor vehicle not equipped with a functioning interlock device approved for use in the Program;
- Failure to abide by the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement with the Interlock Service Provider, including payment of all costs and fees associated with the Program;
- Tampering with, bypassing, or otherwise removing or rendering inoperable the interlock device, or allowing someone else to do the same;
- Attempting to start or operate the vehicle with BAC greater than .025;
- Failure to submit to retests after starting the car.
Committing any of these violations may cause time to be added to your initial time period designated to be a part of the program.
This new law may save lives but it also will be a financial drain on the average every day citizen. Whether you’re in an accident or not, drunk driving just became very costly in Maryland. Tell a friend.