A recent Washington Post editorial came out slamming Maryland legislators, accusing them of being soft on drunk drivers by not insisting on a mandatory ignition interlock law for all those convicted of a DUI in Maryland.
The issue is far more complex than lawmakers simply giving in to alcoholic beverage industry lobbyists, or somehow being fearful of fewer drunk driving defense clients for the legislators who are also criminal defense attorneys.
The fact is that there is absolutely a legitimate argument as to whether someone who barely registers a .08% BAC on a breathalyzer test is as dangerous and likely to re-offend as a chronic alcoholic who blows twice the legal limit.
The legal system treats a .08% as de facto evidence of guilt, despite countless known flaws in breathalyzer machines. Yet it is notoriously difficult to successfully challenge a breath test failure in court. Trials take months, and meanwhile a defendant is typically unable to drive while the case is being adjudicated.
For this reason, many people simply plead guilty to expedite the process, and get on with their lives.
An ignition interlock device requirement on a driver’s license is a serious penalty, and would change that equation significantly. Particularly for those who face job loss if required to have an IID on any vehicle they drive. If you must drive multiple company cars for work, it is not practical to have a device on multiple vehicles.
In cases like this, a person may be more motivated to fight the charges at trial, since job loss is inevitable in either case.
For driver’s license reinstatement after a Maryland DUI, a high BAC threshold for an Ignition Interlock Device requirement law makes a lot of sense.