Proposed new legislation to require ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of a first time DUI charge in Maryland got a boost, when Governor O’Malley went on record supporting such a measure, stating he would sign the bill.
The bill passed the State Senate last year, but was stalled by the House Judiciary Committee. The chairman of that committee is known to be a criminal defense attorney who is skeptical of these measures, but there is good reason to question whether this legislation would go too far in punishing average citizens.
An ignition interlock device is a system that requires a driver to blow into a device and prove that they don’t have any alcohol on their breath before the car’s ignition will start. The device
Restaurant and bar industry advocates suggest that it is unfair to tag someone who makes a one-time mistake, barely over the legal limit of .08%BAC with the same penalty as someone with a history of alcohol abuse, who may be driving several times over the limit for alcohol impairment. A law like this takes away judicial discretion to make a distinction between these two types of cases, and would require an interlock device to be installed for any 1st offense DUI. Current law makes these devices available at a judge’s discretion, or in cases where a defendant may choose a shorter license suspension in exchange for one of these devices.
The new law would require the devices for anyone facing DUI penalties, even if they are given a Probation Before Judgment, or PBJ, which is not considered the same as a conviction by Maryland DUI laws.