ANNAPOLIS, MD - Remembering and honoring victims of impaired driving crashes in Maryland, Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford today joined Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn, Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi, Motor Vehicle Administrator Christine E. Nizer, highway safety advocates and Rich Leotta – father of Montgomery County police officer Noah Leotta – at the 13th Annual Maryland Remembers event. The annual memorial honors the lives of the hundreds of Maryland citizens killed at the hands of impaired drivers. Over the past five years (2011-2015), an average of 160 people have died in impaired driving-related (alcohol and drug) crashes on Maryland’s roads and hundreds more are seriously injured.
“We cannot, and will not, accept the fact that nearly one-third of all Maryland highway fatalities are due to an impaired driver,” said Lieutenant Governor Rutherford. “The Hogan Administration is committed to working with law enforcement, elected officials, and our highway safety partners to protect our citizens and save lives.”
To help save lives by removing more drunk drivers from Maryland roadways, Governor Larry Hogan supported and signed the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah’s Law), which went into effect October 1, 2016. The law will save lives by requiring ignition interlock for all convicted drunk drivers. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver’s breath and requires the driver to retest at random points while they are driving. The Governor also recently announced more than $12.5 million in federal highway safety funds for more than 80 agencies and organizations across Maryland to help strengthen and expand the state’s efforts to save lives. This includes funds targeted to impaired driving enforcement.
“Maryland Remembers serves as an important reminder to all Marylanders that impaired driving is a crime that shatters lives,” said Secretary Rahn. “Our message is simple: plan for a sober ride or plan to go to jail.”
During the month of December, on average, 13 people are killed and 280 injured in impaired driving crashes in Maryland. Last year, more than 23,000 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Maryland and police will again be deployed in a series of checkpoints and intense DUI patrols throughout the holidays to find and arrest impaired drivers. Nationally, a mother, father, son, or daughter is killed in an impaired-driving crash every 51 minutes.
“There is no excuse for driving drunk,” said Colonel Pallozzi. "Maryland state troopers continue aggressive impaired driving enforcement efforts throughout the state and will remain committed to this important cause. If there is any comfort you can find today, I hope it is in knowing that we have not given up the fight.”
Prior to the Maryland Remembers event, Secretary Rahn, Colonel Pallozzi, Administrator Nizer and representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving gathered to officially introduce the state’s latest tool in the fight to end drunk driving: the Mobile Breath Alcohol Testing Truck. The truck is a joint initiative between the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office and the Maryland State Police. Paid for entirely with federal funds, the truck will help law enforcement officers test, verify and arrest drunk drivers at DUI checkpoints across the State.
“By testing suspected drunk drivers inside this truck instead of transporting the impaired driver back to the local barracks for testing, officers can remain at checkpoints doing what they do best: saving more lives by pulling over more drunk drivers,” said Secretary Rahn.
The cost of the vehicle was $430,425 plus $21,549 for 3 Intoximeters (Evidential Breath Testing Instruments) for dedicated use on the truck. The truck will be made available to other Maryland law enforcement agencies. The first deployment of the truck is Friday, December 16, 2016.
“The Mobile Breath Alcohol Testing truck is a progressive way to obtain immediate breath results and remove drunk drivers from the roadways, saving lives and preventing injuries,” said Mothers Against Drunk Driving State Program Director Lisa Spicknall. “We need to use every resource available to make sure that more lives are not needlessly lost because of an impaired driver.”
“Lives are on the line, and we need people to plan ahead for a safe and sober ride home,” said MVA Administrator Nizer.
Preventing impaired driving starts with taking personal responsibility to ensure a safe and sober ride home. Here are some tips:
- Before you take your first sip of alcohol, leave your keys at home or give them to a friend.
- If you’re going out to a bar or holiday party, have a designated sober driver to get you home safely.
- Keep the numbers of transportation companies in your phone, use public transportation, or make plans to stay overnight.
- If you’re hosting a holiday party, make sure all your guests have a sober ride. Keep numbers to cab companies and rideshare programs like Uber or Lyft on hand, and never let anyone get behind the wheel if they have been drinking.
- If you’re the designated driver, do not drink. Your friends are relying on you, as are the people with whom you share the road.