Maryland has become one of the more progressive states in recent history. Whether it be in protecting one’s privacy, moving towards bridging the gap in pay inequality, and now from protecting us from ourselves. The concept of driving while under the influence is one that the majority of Marylanders do not consider doing. However, recent studies have shown that the number of alcohol related (DUI) deaths has increased in Maryland quicker than the national average. This is a trend that Maryland recognized as a problem and made the conscious effort to take steps to correct it.
Starting October 1, 2016, Maryland will begin to implement a new policy when someone is convicted of a DUI. The new law will require that an ignition interlock device be installed in the cars of anyone convicted of a DUI, for a minimum period of six months. Previously, the device was only required if the individual convicted of DUI was either: (1) found to have a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher; (2) under the age of 21; or (3) had a child in the car at the time of the offense.
In passing this new requirement for those convicted of DUI, Maryland hopes that it will reverse the trend of DUI related deaths in the state, similarly to how this law has affected other states. West Virginia and New Mexico saw a decrease of approximately 50 and 37 percent in DUI related deaths, respectively, over about a ten year period.
At a time when government is looked at with cynicism and frustration, it is a pleasant surprise when government comes together, looks at an issue collaboratively, and makes real change aimed at correcting the issue. It is unknown if this new law will have the same or similar affect as it did elsewhere, but it is good to see local politicians study an issue, see what has worked, and try to implement that for its constituents.
Jumping to the legal aspect of this law, it is important for those practitioners that counsel clients about DUIs, to be aware of this new regulation. Maryland DUI attorneys need to make sure their clients are aware that starting October 1, if they are found guilty of DUI they will be required to have an ignition interlocking device in their vehicle for a minimum of six months. It is essential that these practitioners incorporate this potential outcome in their discussions with clients moving forward.
Unlike before when an individual was able to “hide” a DUI conviction from friends and family, it is possible this new law might make them think twice about taking the risk of driving while under the influence. If convicted they will have to explain to anyone who comes in their car what and why they have an ignition interlocking device. The difficulty in finding a good excuse for having the device may play a role in decreasing the likelihood someone risks driving while under the influence in the future. Having to explain to those around you that you were convicted of a DUI and are now required to take a breathalyzer in order to start your car should be enough to at least halt the rising trend in DUI related deaths in Maryland.
The Gohari Legal Group represents clients in bankruptcy, corporate, litigation, estate planning, family, immigration and real estate matters in Maryland. The firm is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland and serves clients from Frederick County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. We bring our decades of experience in the practice of law to serve each and every client. We are a small firm, giving our clients the individual attention they need. We help our clients in a speedy and cost-efficient manner.