Lawmakers tread a fine line between punishing drunk drivers and providing recovery options for drivers with alcohol abuse issues. It is often hard for lawmakers to find ways to keep drunk drivers off the road without jeopardizing their livelihood.
When a drunk driver recently struck and killed a police officer in Maryland, lawmakers rallied behind a bill that strove to keep the streets safe by adding ignition interlock requirements to DUI and DWI convictions. The ignition interlock device prevents a car from starting if there is a certain level of alcohol on the driver's breath. The new mandate is called "Noah's Law," named after Officer Noah Leotta.
Your recent DUI arrest means you may be subject to this law if the court convicts you. If this is your first conviction, you will be required to participate in the ignition interlock program for six months. However, if you refused to take a blood alcohol test at the time of your arrest, the court will require you to have the device for one year.
The new law also increases the length of driver's license suspensions. For example, instead of a 45-day suspension for a blood alcohol concentration between .08 and .14, you are now subject to a suspension of 180 days. If you refuse a BAC test, you risk a license suspension of up to two years. In some cases, the state may allow you to opt into the ignition interlock program immediately instead of disputing your charge in administrative court. Your attorney will advise you if this is appropriate for your circumstances.
What is your next step?
The loss of life in a traffic accident is always tragic because it happens suddenly and unexpectedly. When the person involved is someone who is well-loved or respected in the community, it is natural for people to rally around a cause to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Noah's Law is intended to keep drunk drivers off the road, but while the Ignition Interlock Program may be a valuable tool for that purpose, it is often only part of the penalties you may face after a DUI arrest.
With each conviction, the penalties for drunk driving become more severe, and fighting them becomes more complicated. Having an attorney to defend your rights is crucial if you hope to see your charges dismissed or reduced, depending on your circumstances. Your attorney will advise you on the most positive outcome to expect and guide you in seeking any alternative penalties that may be available to you.