Drinking and driving is a serious national public health and safety issue. Over the past five years, impaired drivers have accounted for roughly one third of all roadway deaths in Maryland. On average, there are 7,884 impaired driving crashes statewide, resulting in 171 fatalities and 4,026 injuries every year.
Ignition Interlock is a tool to help keep drunk drivers off our roads. It allows drivers to continue driving -- sober. An individual participating in the Program can only operate motor vehicles that are equipped with an ignition interlock device.
An ignition interlock device means a device that connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a driver’s alcohol concentration and prevents a motor vehicle ignition from starting the motor vehicle if a driver’s alcohol concentration exceeds the calibrated setting on the device. The device also records certain information about its use that is reviewed by the Service Provider every thirty days.
The driver must blow into a mouthpiece connected to the device, allowing the device to measure the driver’s breath alcohol content (BAC). If the device registers a BAC greater than .025, it will not allow the vehicle to start. The device will ask for additional retests while the vehicle is being driven. It is not necessary to stop driving while taking a retest.
Maryland Vehicle Law and the Code of Maryland Regulations establish the requirements for participation, the standards for certification, installation, repair and removal of interlock devices, the eligibility requirements for participants, and the standards for Service Providers.
If eligible, the drunk driver may immediately opt-in – “elect” to participate – in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program instead of serving the Administrative Per Se suspension period (see Impaired Driving Laws). Your election to participate and instructions can be found on the reverse side of the driver copy of the "Order of Suspension."
Instead of requesting a hearing or upon the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, you may elect to participate in the Ignition Interlock System Program. An Ignition Interlock Election form is located on the reverse side of the driver’s copy of the Order of Suspension.
If you elect to participate, you will be enrolled in the Ignition Interlock Program for:
- 180 days, if you submitted to a test indicating an alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15,
- 1 year if you submitted to a test indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher, or
- 1 year if you refused to submit to the test.
If you successfully complete the Program for your Administrative Per Se sanctions, you may receive credit toward future Ignition Interlock Program enrollment arising from this same incident.
Drivers may also be referred to the Ignition Interlock Program by District Courts, Administrative Law Judges, and the MVA. The determinations of whether a driver is eligible for or must participate in the program and for how long are usually made by one of the following entities:
In addition, the MVA's Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) may offer or require a driver to participate if he or she has accumulated sufficient "points," is a "repeat offender," violates a previously imposed alcohol-related driving restriction, or has received an order of suspension for an alcohol test failure or refusal.
Starting October 1, 2016 under Noah’s Law, drivers are required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program for the following convictions:
- Driving under the influence (DUI);
- Driving while impaired (DWI) while transporting a minor under the age of 16;
- Driving while intoxicated with an initial breathalyzer test refusal; and
- Homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI.
The law will affect anyone stopped in Maryland and cited for a DWI/DUI offense. Out of State licensee convicted of a DWI/DUI charge in a Maryland Court of Law, that conviction will be forwarded to the licensee’s home state for any penalties they deemed appropriate.
Your first step should be to carefully review all of the materials that you received. It may be helpful to review Alcohol Test Failure or Refusal.
If you have been ordered to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program or have decided to opt in, then contact one of the MVA’s authorized Ignition Interlock Service Providers and schedule an appointment to have the ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle that you will be driving. When the device is installed, the provider will show you how to use it, advise you about the monthly maintenance and reporting requirements, and provide you with written proof that the device was installed.
Next, take the written proof of installation and your current driver's license to any MVA branch office and request a "restricted" driver's license. The license will look like your old one but it will have the code letter "J" under the heading "RESTR".
To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following conditions:
1. Your driver’s license is not currently suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused; and
2. Within thirty (30) days of the date of the Order of Suspension you must:
- Have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle by one of the approved Service Providers;
- Surrender to the MVA your valid Maryland driver’s license, or in the event your license is not in your possession, sign a certified statement that your license is no longer in your possession; and
- Elect in writing to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program by completing and returning the bottom portion of this form along with the sealed enrollment form from the service provider to any full service MVA office to obtain a non-commercial Maryland driver’s license restricted to the operation only of vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device.
- If you possess a commercial driver’s license, in order to participate in the Program, you will be required to obtain a non-commercial driver’s license.
The MVA oversees drivers referred to the Ignition Interlock Program. Drivers are required to report to a service provider every 30 days to have the device calibrated and the data downloaded. Failure to report can result in removal from the program and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
The data logger records every transaction, along with the date, time and detail of any violation. This information is reported to the MVA. Any indication of a BAC greater than .025, a bypass attempt or other indication of non-compliance is a violation of the program.
Typically, the Service Provider prepares a report for the MVA each month that includes information about:
- You the driver, your vehicle and other program information;
- Any instances where you had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC);
- Any instances where you tried to start the vehicle without taking the test;
- Any instances where you failed the rolling retest or refused to take it;
- Any bypass of the device, which is if you tampered with or disconnected the device;
- The number of times your vehicle was started and stopped;
- The distance traveled by your vehicle.
Participants who are found to have violated any of the Program provisions will be subject to removal from the Ignition Interlock Program and the MVA will impose the full period of suspension.
Violations of the Program rules and requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
- Failure to have the ignition interlock device installed and obtain a Maryland driver’s license restricted to the operation only of vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device;
- Failure to appear for the required monthly monitoring visit every thirty (30) days;
- Operating a motor vehicle not equipped with a functioning interlock device approved for use in the Program;
- Failure to abide by the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement with the Interlock Service Provider, including payment of all costs and fees associated with the Program;
- Tampering with, bypassing, or otherwise removing or rendering inoperable the interlock device, or allowing someone else to do the same;
- Attempting to start or operate the vehicle with BAC greater than .025;
- Failure to submit to retests after starting the car;
- Any license suspension or revocation imposed while participating in the Program.
There are some everyday items that contain small amount of alcohol and may cause the system to record a violation. Medications such as asthma inhalers or medications containing small amounts of alcohol may cause problems as well. The driver will be held responsible if any of these alcohol-based products cause them to violate the system. To prevent this, the Service Provider will instruct you regarding ignition interlock failures and what you can do to avoid them.
Each time you have one or more violations during a monitoring period, you will receive a letter of notification, and your required time in the program will be extended by one month. If there is a fourth monitoring period containing a violation, you will be terminated from the program, and your original suspension or revocation will be imposed.
If a driver is removed from the program due to violations, he may re-enter the program for the entire originally assigned time, after a minimum suspension period of 30 days.
When you receive information about the program, you should be advised of the minimum length of time that you must participate. However, this time period could be extended if you violate any of the program rules or if you have other driving-related problems. Also, it is important to understand that you will not begin receiving credit for participating in the program until you have had the ignition interlock device installed and obtained the restricted driver's license.
A participant is deemed to have successfully completed the Program and a successful completion letter generated once the Administration receives certification from the Service Provider showing no violations in the final three (3) months of the participation period.
The correspondence you receive from the MVA indicates the name of your case manager. However, due to the volume of cases, your case manager is not always available. The customer support personnel who answers your call can assist you with many of your questions and requests. If he/she cannot help you, a message will be given to your case manager who will contact you within 24 hours.
Participants are responsible for all costs associated with the program participation.
There is a cost when obtaining an interlock restricted driver’s license from MVA.
There is a cost when obtaining a corrected driver’s license from MVA when the restriction is removed after the customer is no longer in the Program.
There is a cost from the ignition interlock Service Provider for installation of the device and there is also a monthly servicing cost. Vendors have varying installation and monitoring charges.
Please call the MDOT MVA ignition interlock unit at 410-762-5088.
Once you have completed your required participation period including any extensions, please bring your vehicle to your ignition interlock service center any time after your completion date for one final download of data. The MVA will receive this data overnight. If there are no violations noted, a successful completion letter will be generated and mailed. You may take the successful completion letter to any MVA branch office to have the restriction removed from your driver's license. Following this, you may have the interlock device removed from your vehicle.