Rightly so, drunk driving has always been, and continues to be, a major concern for Maryland’s many counties, police agencies, and elected officials. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Maryland had well over one hundred and fifty alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2010, which is nearly thirty-six percent (36%) of all traffic deaths. Along with this staggering statistic is information that there is an increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths almost every year. With these triggers on the forefront of the legislature’s mind, Maryland lawmakers passed the 2011 Drink Driving Reduction Act, which took effect on October 1, 2011. The question is; will the DDRA really help to reduce drinking and driving? Or is there some other more sinister motif at play? You decide.
One of the most major changes implemented by the DDRA is an expansion of the state’s infamous ignition interlock program. The Baltimore Sun reports that the interlock program has increased from approximately 5,500 participants in 2009 and 7,900 in 2010 to nearly 9,100 estimated participants in 2011. Past indicators combined with this new legislation illustrate that this program will most certainly continue to grow on its own as will the number of DUI arrests in Maryland. With $125-$150 to install an interlock device and approximately $75 per month to maintain a single unit, the business of DUI is getting a massive stimulus package with these changes. Albert Einstein is noted for saying that “the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” With 5,500 participants on the ignition interlock system in 2009, the DUI rates continued to soar. With 7,900 participants in 2010, DUI rates continued to soar. With 9,100 participants in 2011, the DUI rates continued to soar. The lawmakers’ response is to put more people on the interlock. What would Einstein say about this? Is this insane? It’s only insane if the goal is to stop DUI, but not if the goal is to generate revenue, because that, ladies and gentlemen, is surely being achieved. Simply multiply 9,100 by the $125 installation fee and you have $1,137,500 – not bad!!! It sure would be fun, if I had time, to track these profits and see where they lead.
The old law primarily imposed ignition interlock controls when someone charged with a DUI/DWI submitted to a breath test with a result of a .15 or above or refused a breath test outright. The new DDRA will require drivers to enroll in the interlock program if:
1. They are under 21 years of age and violate alcohol restrictions
2. They are convicted of DUI for the second time within five years
3. They registered a blood alcohol content of .15 or more or refuse a BAC test
Additionally, changes were made to how the program is monitored and how officials deal with a driver who violates. For example, the MVA’s claim to fame is that they are the first in the nation to fully automate its ignition interlock system. In other words, the fate of Maryland’s interlock participants will be placed into the virtual hands of a non-breathing, non-rationalizing, computer apparatus. Every thirty days a driver must visit one of the agency’s five approved vendors and pay to have his or her data downloaded, and any “violation” will be automatically flagged. Want to fight the violation? You probably have to locate John Connor and initiate some sort of resistance against the machines. Those found to be in violation of the program face fines, extended interlock periods, termination from the program resulting in automatic license suspension, and even potential jail time.
As usual, the attorneys at the Law Firm of Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake (SZL) are well-informed and think exhaustively about even minute changes in DUI laws. If you have been charged with a DUI, even if your offense doesn’t require an ignition interlock, and John Connor is not available, then you should speak with someone at Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake (SZL) immediately. It is possible to preemptively fight the imposition of the ignition interlock device as well as many other constitutional elements of a DUI case. The absolute best way to initiate a resistance against the machine is to absolutely refrain from drinking any alcohol whatsoever within a 10-foot radius of any vehicle. A cab ride from the local pub to your home will without question be less costly than a DUI charge both tangibly and metaphorically. We can surely tell from experience that every single person that drove drunk wishes they did not do so. This is the only surefire way. Save your hard earned money and do not drink and drive.