Like the snuggle of a seat belt, we all deserve to feel safe when behind the wheel of a car. Maryland has been trying to keep its drivers safe, but has long lagged behind the drunk driving policies of neighboring states. That could all change this year. Maryland is looking at a few options for ensuring the safety of drivers on the state’s roads, including an all-offender ignition interlock policy, and other DWI or alcohol-related laws.
Currently, a first-offense DWI in Maryland does not carry a mandatory ignition interlock requirement. An offender can install the device in order to skip the administrative license suspension from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MDMVA), but there is no requirement for a first-offense DWI. With the proposed law, a first-time DWI offender will be required to install an ignition interlock through the court, helping create better outcome for the offender and for others on the roads.
In addition to the interlock requirement, families who lost a loved one because of a DWI in Maryland may be able to sue the drunk driver for damages if legislation is approved. Those families could be compensated for funeral costs, medical costs and even sue for punitive damages.
In order to curb underage drinking in Maryland, the third proposed law change is to increase fines and jail time for adults who give alcohol to minors. Currently, violating that statute costs an offender $2,500 and they can be in jail for six months. If this new law is passed, that fine could be $5,000 and the jail time could increase to one year.
Maryland’s new take on DWI and alcohol-related crimes will not only benefit everyone on the roads, and those laws reflect a national awareness that more can (and should) be done to stop drunk drivers. Even before we help them rehabilitate and allow the families of DWI victims to seek justice through the court system, we can all do our part to be responsible ourselves and offer a safe ride home to anyone who may be a danger on the roads.