Maryland bill targets drunk drivers who have minors in the car

Recent legislation proposed in Maryland's General Assembly would require the use of an ignition interlock device for any driver convicted of driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle. An ignition interlock device requires the driver of a vehicle to blow into an alcohol sensor before the car will start. The IID also requires random second tests to prevent a driver from having someone sober initially start the vehicle.

The author of the bill, Delegate Sam Arora, told the Baltimore News Journal that "driving drunk with a child in the car should shock our conscience," and indicated he was proud to work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving on the issue.

MADD wishes to go even further, however, and require IID installation for any driver convicted of drunk driving, even for first-time offenders. In Maryland, IID installation is required for repeat offenders and drivers convicted of operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.15 or higher. Currently 22 states, including Virginia, require all drivers with a DUI to use an ignition interlock device. Advocates for the measure are planning to introduce legislation requiring IID installation in 2014. They have done so in the past but so far such legislation has failed to pass the General Assembly.

Additional penalties may apply if a person is convicted of a DWI with a minor in the vehicle, however. Additional fines may apply and jail time is possible, although incarceration is not required by the state for a first-time offense even with a minor in the vehicle.

Other penalties

Whether or not Maryland expands its requirements for IID installation after a DUI conviction, the penalties facing anyone arrested on such a charge can be extensive. A license suspension of a minimum of six months can make getting to work or going to other necessary places difficult. Car insurance rates will likely increase, and a previous DUI makes the penalties for any subsequent DUI convictions much more severe. For example, a third DUI conviction that occurs with a minor in the vehicle can bring up to a $4,000 fine and a license suspension of up to a year-and-a-half.

Defending a DUI charge

A DUI charge can affect a variety of people from all walks of life. However, each DUI case is unique and the legal steps needed vary for each individual. An officer needs probable cause in order to pull someone over, for example, and an officer must respect a person's constitutional rights when conducting a search of a vehicle. If an officer does not have probable cause, evidence obtained from the traffic stop may be inadmissible in court. Maryland drivers accused of driving under the influence should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their rights and legal options.