Drunk driving accidents can have life-altering consequences for all parties involved. Throughout the career of a hard-working Maryland DUI lawyer, many clients will be represented who have been accused of driving while intoxicated charges. They are not the only ones affected however–In the United States each year, over 13,000 Americans die in drunk driving related accidents. In order to combat this problem, several innovations have been suggested to protect drunk drivers from getting on the roads. One of the most popular, is the installed breathalyzer systems in cars that would prevent an individual from driving should they be intoxicated.
This new bill is currently pending before Congress. If passed, it would need all people convicted of driving while intoxicated- DUI, driving under the influence- DUI, or operating under the influence- OWI to install the breathalyzer system in their cars. In order to start the vehicle, the person must blow into a breathalyzer test installed into the car. If passed, the car will start. If the breathalyzer test reads higher than the legal limit, the car will not turn on.
Currently, there are 150,000 interlock systems installed throughout the United States. However, this generally applies to people who have multiple convictions for driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, or operating under the influence. However, anti-drunk driving organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) intend on taking the law a step further with the current pending legislation.
If this bill passes in Congress, then states would not be required to comply with the measures intended to prevent drunk driving. Should they decline to adopt the new policies, their highway funding from the federal government will be cut significantly. However, only eleven states have enacted legislation that requires individuals convicted of drunk driving to have an interlock system in their car. Generally, this is a provision so the convicted person does not have to give up all driving privileges, but at the same time, does not drive while intoxicated a second time.
Critics of the new bill say that the pending legislation goes too far. According to Sarah Longwell, the managing director of the American Beverage Institute, if this bill passes it could open the door to implementing interlock systems on all cars, not just those of convicted drunk drivers. This could make participating in American past times difficult. For example, Longwell reminds the public: “If you go to the ball game, and enjoy one beer, you would not be able to drive home,” regardless of whether the person was intoxicated or not.
Supporters of MADD and other anti-drunk driving organizations are realistic about the situation. It is very likely that technology advanced enough to be installed in every car is over a decade off. However, current breathalyzer technology can make significant improvements immediately. New Mexico has implemented the interlock system on cars of convicted drunk drivers. Since that time, DUI related fatalities in the state of New Mexico have dropped over thirty-five percent. This provides evidence that installing interlock systems can cut the number of injuries and/or deaths sustained as a result of driving under the influence.
Facing driving while intoxicated charges is a difficult process for anyone to go through. Conviction of DUI charges can have life changing consequences including the loss of driving privileges, fines, and/or jail time. For guidance navigating through the complex legal system, contact an experienced Maryland DUI attorney or Maryland criminal lawyer for the best legal representation.
If you want to learn more about DUI charges and penalties in Maryland, please follow this link.