Lawmakers pass new mandate for drunken drivers caught with children in car

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - It will become mandatory for motorists who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol with children in the car to install an interlock ignition system in their vehicle.

Current law stipulates that only drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration of .15 of higher have to install the device that electronically tests a driver's sobriety before allowing the vehicle to start.

A BAC of .15 is nearly twice the current legal limit of .08.

“Every child deserves a designated driver,” said Del. Sam Arora, the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a release.  “This law will go a long way to making that a reality for more of our children.  By putting an ignition interlock in the cars of offenders, we can help make sure they don’t drive drunk again.  I applaud the General Assembly’s passage of this important measure, especially Delegate Clippinger whose expertise was essential to this victory.”

Kurt Erickson, president of the Maryland nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program, reports that someone in Maryland is arrested every 19 hours who driving impaired with kids in the car, according to the release.

“The University of Maryland’s National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Systems cited that Maryland recorded 465 arrests in 2012 for driving while impaired by alcohol and or drugs while also transporting a minor,” the release states. “The National Study Center’s findings also conclude that the crime of DUI (§ 21-902(a)) in Maryland whilst transporting a minor is on the rise as citations for such have increased by double digit figures (20.94%) between 2009 and 2012.”

The bill was passed Monday, the last day of the legislative session. The bill now advances to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk for his signature. 

“Those irresponsible enough to drive with a child in the car while they are drunk should have the interlock installed,” said Del. Luke Clippinger in the release.  “Working together with Delegate Arora and a broad coalition of supporters, we passed a commonsense protection for Maryland’s children.”

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