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Maryland???s efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road

Like other states, Maryland is working hard to reduce the number of traffic injuries and fatalities that result from drunk driving. This includes educational efforts aimed at new drivers, public awareness campaigns and stricter penalties for drunk driving offenses. You have likely noticed increase police patrols around holidays and frequent sobriety checkpoints.

In recent years, police and law makers have had added incentive to tighten the laws against drunk driving. After a county police officer suffered fatal injuries when an alleged drunk driver struck him in the line of duty, the state passed The Drunk Driving Reduction Act. You may wish to understand how this law affects you if you are facing drunk driving charges.

How Noah's Law changes DUI convictions

Noah's Law, as proponents have nicknamed the new law, expands the ignition interlock requirement to include all drivers convicted of DUI or DWI. Ignition interlock is a device that prevents your car from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath. You blow into the device to start the vehicle, then periodically as you drive, the machine will require you to blow again or risk disabling the engine. In this way, lawmakers hope to keep those who have been drinking from getting behind the wheels of their cars.

With an ignition interlock on your vehicle, you can continue to drive to work and other places instead of waiting out or challenging a license suspension. Depending on how many previous DUI convictions you have, the court may require you to use an ignition interlock between six months and three years. In some cases, you may be able to choose license suspension instead of the interlock, or the other way around.

Implied consent and Noah's Law

In Maryland, you must submit to chemical blood testing if police have arrested you under suspicion of drunk driving. Refusing to take a blood or breath test is a separate offense resulting in the automatic suspension of your driver's license. You can contest this suspension with an administrative hearing. However, under Noah's Law, you may be able to petition to opt-in to the ignition interlock program instead of going through the administrative process.

You may wish to discuss with an attorney whether this option will benefit you in the long run. In fact, since any decisions you make following an arrest can have long-term ramifications, you would be wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after your arrest.

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