GLEN BURNIE, MD (June 29, 2023) – Before Marylanders celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office and law enforcement officials are reminding motorists to stay safe by designating a sober ride home if they consume alcohol, cannabis or medications. At an event Thursday at the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Glen Burnie branch, officials noted the State Police Impaired Driving Reduction Effort – or SPIDRE – team will be out in force to take impaired drivers off the road.
“The message we are sharing is simple – if you choose to consume, choose a safe way to get home. Take public transportation, schedule a rideshare, or ride with a designated sober driver,” said Motor Vehicle Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Wes Moore’s Highway Safety Representative. “We are focused on ensuring the safety of everyone traveling on our roads this holiday weekend. The injuries and fatalities that occur because of someone’s poor decision to get behind the wheel while impaired are preventable.”
Formed in 2013, SPIDRE is a specially trained team of troopers who work in targeted areas in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan region where impaired driving is a leading cause of death and injury. Team members train other state police troopers and local law enforcement officers, and partner with local police departments and agencies to reduce impaired related crashes throughout the state. Maryland State Police and the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office provide funding for this effort. Since its inception, SPIDRE has been responsible for more than 4,300 arrests for suspected driving under the influence.
“No one needs to lose their life because of an impaired driver. Whether it’s jail time or suspended licenses, totaled vehicles to injuries and/or lives lost, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have a lasting impact on a community,” said Major Daniel Pickett, Acting Chief of the Field Operations Bureau of Maryland State Police. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to removing these potentially deadly drivers from our highways.”
Administrator Nizer and Major Pickett were joined by Maryland Transportation Authority Police Officer Scott Krell. In 2021, Officer Krell was conducting a suspected DUI stop when he was struck by a car going 54 mph, driven by an impaired driver. Officer Krell was thrown 7 feet in the air and 130 feet down I-95. After three surgeries to fix his broken right leg and arm, he is back on duty and is a recent graduate of the Highway Safety Office’s DUI Institute.
Impaired driving is 100% preventable. However, over the past five years in Maryland, nearly 800 people have been killed and nearly 15,300 have been injured in crashes involving an impaired driver. Police reports show increased speed, instances of impairment and lower seat belt use as the most common contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities.
In addition to the SPIDRE team, impaired driving enforcement has occurred this year with state and local law enforcement agencies. So far this year between January and May, law enforcement agencies have arrested more than 6,400 impaired drivers.
Besides the risk of causing injury or death, driving under the influence or while intoxicated may result in an arrest, jail time, extensive legal costs and fines. Under the 2016 implementation of Noah’s Law, drivers convicted of DUI are also required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program.
While the SPIDRE team and allied law enforcement partners will monitor roads for impaired drivers this holiday weekend, officials also warn pedestrians of the potential impact of impairment. Analysis of pedestrian fatalities has revealed an increasing number of pedestrians struck by vehicles have alcohol or drugs in their system at the time of the crash. In addition to avoiding impairment, pedestrians are reminded of the following rules of the road:
- Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
- Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
- Always stop at the curb and look left, right and left before crossing a street.
- Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
- Wear light or bright colored clothing, especially if out walking after dusk.
- Pay attention and take off headphones while walking – no texting or playing games.
- Walk, don't run across the street.
With the legalization of recreational adult-use cannabis beginning July 1 in Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office has developed a new element of its Be the Driver - Who Saves Lives highway safety campaign. Be the MAKE A PLAN Driver and Be the SOBER Driver messages now appear on a variety of mediums, including billboards, digital display ads and social media ads. More information on cannabis-impairment can be found at ZeroDeathsMD.gov/Cannabis.
Learn more about the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office at ZeroDeathsMD.gov or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ZeroDeathsMD.