What recent changes to DUI law mean for Maryland drivers

This article looks at what Maryland's recent DUI law changes mean for drivers in the state.

In October of 2016 a new DUI law, commonly referred to as Noah's Law, went into effect in Maryland. As WTOP News points out, the new law significantly expands the use of ignition interlock devices in the state. Now, drivers can be forced to use ignition interlock devices for many more drunk driving-related offenses, including for simply refusing to submit to an initial breathalyzer test. The changes mean Maryland now has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country and it is important for drivers to understand how those laws could affect them.

Greater use of ignition interlock devices

The new law means that judges are required to order drivers who are convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol content level above 0.08 or who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test for suspected impaired driving to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for six months. That punishment will be on top of any other penalties faced by the offender.

The changes mean that almost anybody convicted of drunk driving or a similar offense, including first-time DUI offenders, faces the prospect of having an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Defenders of the new law say it will help crack down on drunk driving while also allowing convicted drivers to maintain their driving privileges.

Devices can be expensive and intrusive

While it is certainly true that driving with an ignition interlock device is better than not being able to drive at all, the devices are still highly intrusive and invasive. As ABC News reports, not only will drivers have to blow a BAC level below 0.025 into the devices every time they want to start their car, but the devices will also conduct random checks while motorists are driving to ensure they are still sober. Drivers have just 10 minutes to complete these random checks and if they refuse or fail the test then the car will start honking and the lights may begin to flash.

Additionally, the devices are not cheap, costing about $80 per month. That cost is paid by the offender and can prove to be a heavy burden for some. That cost also comes on top of other penalties associated with being convicted for a DUI, including fines, jail time, and a criminal record.

DUI defense

As the above article shows, DUI laws in Maryland are tough and are only getting tougher. Any driver who is facing DUI charges needs to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help clients navigate what is often a complex and overwhelming justice system. In some cases, an attorney may be able to help clients avoid being slapped with a mandatory ignition interlock device or other DUI penalty.