Officials Discuss New Drunk Driving Penalties That Take Effect October 1
News Release, Maryland Department of Transportation
BALTIMORE, MD (September 21, 2019) – Chrissy Nizer, Administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), joined with partners, families and advocates of the Maryland Affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for the 13th annual Walk Like MADD fundraising event on Saturday at Canton Waterfront Park.
Administrator Nizer discussed legislation taking effect October 1 to combat drunk and drugged driving and showed off MDOT MVA’s pilot project to test the new Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, a technology that the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) says could help reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 60 percent.
Earlier this year, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law House Bill 707, which increases penalties for those convicted of a DUI or DWI for first-time and subsequent offenders.
Stiffer penalties, including increased fines and jail time for repeat offenders and the doubling of penalties for first and repeat offenders if they transport a minor while impaired by drugs or alcohol, are a part of the legislation that will take effect October 1.
“Maryland has been at the forefront in the effort to fight impaired driving, and we will continue to do everything we can to save lives on our roadways,” said Governor Hogan.
The stiffer penalties are the latest effort to combat impaired driving. In 2016, Governor Hogan introduced legislation that became Noah’s Law, a measure that expanded Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program to mandate that interlock devices be installed in vehicles of convicted drunk drivers even for the first conviction.
This past August, MDOT MVA debuted a pilot program called Driven to Protect, a public-private partnership between the state and the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program to test alcohol detection technology on several MDOT MVA fleet vehicles.
Using sensors built into the panels of the vehicle, alcohol detection technology measures the level of alcohol on a driver’s naturally exhaled breath. The pilot program will test the system against wear and tear of everyday vehicle use, weather, and other factors.
“We can’t do it alone. The elimination of impaired driving will take awareness, partnerships, innovation, and diligence,” said Administrator Nizer, who also serves as Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “I commend MADD for its tireless advocacy and look forward to continuing our partnership to save lives on Maryland roads.”
Approximately one-third of the fatalities on Maryland roadways each year are a result of someone driving while impaired. Funds raised through Walk Like MADD help to further MADD’s mission to eliminate impaired driving through high-visibility enforcement, ignition interlocks and support for the development of advanced technology.
MDOT MVA is committed to eliminating impaired driving crashes on Maryland roads and has partnered with MADD over the years to implement several impaired driving programs.