GLEN BURNIE, MD (March 28, 2016) - Governor Larry Hogan’s regulations to allow more people the opportunity to participate in Maryland’s ignition interlock program go into effect today. The new regulations, proposed by the Governor in November, allow drunk drivers who register between a 0.08 and 0.14 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) a chance to opt-in to the program for one year without an administrative hearing. Prior to these regulations, only drivers who registered a 0.15 BAC or higher were allowed to opt-in. The ignition interlock is a device the size of a cell phone that prevents a car from starting when it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver’s breath.
“Thanks to this common-sense expansion of ignition interlock, this program can start saving more lives today,” said Governor Hogan. “Too many innocent lives are stolen from us at the hands of drunk drivers, and our Administration will continue to take the necessary steps to end these senseless tragedies.”
Last year, Maryland’s ignition interlock program prevented nearly 4,000 trips where the driver’s BAC was greater than 0.08, which is the legal limit in Maryland. Today, the comprehensive program has 11,000 participants, the 6th highest number of ignition interlocks installed and the 9th highest usage rate in the nation.
“Ignition interlocks save lives by stopping drunks from driving,” said Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
Maryland’s program, which began in 1989, is nationally-recognized and is monitored by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Today’s program is fully automated, which allows the MVA to efficiently monitor participants and take action against program violators. In addition to expanding the number of people who can opt-in, the new regulations bring Maryland in compliance with ignition interlock device standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Over the last several years, on average, 171 people were killed each year in impaired driving crashes in Maryland. Sadly, one out of every three people killed in Maryland traffic crashes dies in an impaired driving crash. All of the fatalities were preventable. In Maryland, drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and those with a BAC of 0.05 are charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI).