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Maryland to Consider Ignition Breathalyzer for Adults Who Drive Children While Drunk

On the eve of one of the busiest travel periods of the year, a Maryland lawmaker has proposed requiring drunk drivers caught with a child in the car to have their sobriety electronically checked each time they get behind the wheel.

Under a measure pre-filed for the 2013 legislative session by State Delegate Sam Arora (D-Montgomery) that became public today, these drivers would be required to install an “ignition interlock” device, which would not allow the car to start unless the driver blows into a breathalyzer attached to the car and receives a sober reading.

“Driving drunk with a child in the car is beyond reckless, and we have the tools to save lives,” Arora said. “There is no better way to protect these children than ensuring that their drivers are sober.” 

Under current law, a driver must have nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his or her system, 0.15 BAC, before police may require the driver to install an ignition interlock. A 180-pound man would have to consume over seven beers within an hour to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.15, according to bloodalcoholcalculator.org. Under Delegate Arora’s proposal, the threshold for installation of the interlocks for drivers with children in the car would be 0.08 BAC—the level at which motorists may not drive legally.

“Driving drunk with a child passenger in the vehicle is a form of child abuse,” said Maryland resident and MADD National President Jan Withers. “Maryland lawmakers should advance legislation to help make the punishment fit this heinous crime by requiring those convicted of DUI child endangerment to have an ignition interlock on their vehicle — because every child deserves a sober designated driver."

The Centers for Disease Control reports that most drivers guilty of transporting minors under the influence of alcohol, drove drunk approximately 80 times before their first brush with the law.

“Between 2009 and 2011, Maryland has seen a more than ten-percent increase in citations made for DUI whilst transporting a minor,” said Kurt Erickson, President of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program, citing data from the National Study Center for Trauma and EMS and Maryland State Police. “In fact, half of all minors killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Maryland in 2009 were occupants of a vehicle driven by a drunk driver.”

Categories: Public Safety  |  Drunk Driving  |  Transportation

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