Md. Expands Ignition Interlock System To Include First-Time Drunk Drivers

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Ignition Interlock Program, which keeps drunk drivers from starting their cars, is expanding.

Monique Griego has more on how Maryland authorities are targeting first-time offenders.

Fail a breathalyzer test, and you’ll now most likely have to pass another one.

“The embarrassment of having to blow into that thing would have cured me,” Judy Kressig, a former drunk driver, said.

Judy Kressig suffered a brain injury after she crashed her car while driving drunk. She supports a new Maryland state law that expands the Ignition Interlock System to first-time offenders.

“It will reduce the opportunities for drunk drivers to re-offend,” Col. Marcus Brown of the Maryland State Police said.

In Maryland in 2010, 22,000 people were convicted of drunk driving. In 2009, 162 people died in alcohol-related crashes. Ignition locks keep drivers who blow positive for alcohol from starting their car.

“They prevent a drunk driver from driving drunk. Period,” said Caroline Cash of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Under the new law, interlocks will be mandatory for drivers with: a blood-alcohol level of .15 or greater, two alcohol convictions of any kind within five years, and drivers under 21 caught at a .02 level or higher.

“It kept me clean and sober,” Kressig said.

Audie Johnston credits the Ignition Interlock with keeping her sober, although as an addict, she hated it.

“It was a money burden and burden to my desire to drink,” Johnston said.

And installing one of these systems isn’t cheap. It will cost you around a $1,000 a year.

Combine that with legal costs and the risk you pose on the road.

“It’s just so not worth it– drinking and driving,” Johnston said. “It’s just so not worth it.”

In Maryland, there are currently more than 9,000 people participating in the interlock program.

Maryland State Police say along with this new law, they plan to increase DUI enforcement.

  • $$$$$$$$

    if u drink u best walk, cab it, or have a freind who doesn’t drink,,,,,BIG $$$$$$ WISE UP

  • ajskljkgjkaj

    Hum, thought the you have to go to driving school was suppose to stop and reduce drunk driving significantly. 162 people died in 2010 shows it was a waste of effort and a burden on beginner drivers. Oh hold on this interlock system seems to be a failure too.
    Motheragainstdrunkdriving are just parents who can’t control their child so they want the government to control their childeren at the risk of others time and money.

  • adsadsfadfa

    Maybe the older a person is caught drunk driving the harder the penalty should be no exemptions but thats not going to happen cause the old people know they are exempt from such laws.

    • Matt

      How so?


    The drunk driver will probably get another person to blow into the thing, pass the breathalyzer and take off driving. All drunk drivers are not STUPID but their actions are.

    • Rob

      FYI – the device requires you to blow into it after about 10-15 minutes of driving to prevent that from happening. If that test is failed, the car alarm and horn go off (while driving) so police can find you. Also, it is reported by the company that does the monthly maintence on it. Too many and you will be back in court. Great System…

      • Collin

        Ever heard of a passenger seat?
        They always find a way, lol
        I agree something should be done about drunk driving. Unfortunately interlock systems, like stoplight and speed cameras are primarily about politicians who draft legislation in exchange for “kickbacks” or other favors from corporations that manufacture and install these products. Remember this is just capitalism as work. Show me something that has ever worked.

  • NoBody

    it’s we have a thing called double jeapordy, but yet it does not include DUI/DWI laws. I have sat in meets where people whom were not even drinking were arrested due to the officers knowledge. Big news the officers these days are not that smart. Look at what htye did while waiting to get into the academy. The blow and goes can be hacked or atleast have a less drunk driver in the car. I have heard fo stories of peoplke having their kids blow just so they could drive.

    Also if you like to use mouth wash, you will fail this test. BAC test as well as blown goes have accused people of DUI for personal hygeine. Go figure.

  • sheriff

    Blow on this for awhile.

  • Mike Calo

    Cool. In spite of the cynics who have posted here, I hope the system works as intended, and better.

  • Meredith

    When will people open their eyes and see how out of control DUI arrests have gotten in this state? I guess arresting innocent people for DUIs and forcing them to pay thousands of dollars in legal and court fees hasnt generated enough revenue, now they have to make punishments even harsher. I know that there are often legitimately drunk drivers, who deserve penalties. But there are also drivers with BACs well below the legal limit, drivers attempting to sleep it off in their cars rather than drive, etc who are being arrested and charged with DUIs every day. Last year my boyfriend was pulled over and charged with a DUI after blowing a 0.03. He was polite to the officer and cooperated in every way, passing the roadside sobriety test, but he was still arrested, haulted off to police barracks and I was left by myself, in the dark, on the side of a windy road to figure out for myself how to get home. Protect and serve, my ass. For obvious reasons (mainly there was absolutely no proof against him, only in his favor), my boyfriends case was thrown out of court, but not before he was forced to hire an attorney and pay court fees adding up to well over a thousand dollars. An attorney, mind you, who happens to be one of the Maryland lawmakers who probably pushed this law because, not only do they receive kickbacks from the makers of the devices, but they make a killing off of representing people on DUI charges and the harsher the penalties get, the more money they make. The other officers at the barracks apologized that night and told us that they are being heavily pressured to make any DUI arrests they can because they are a big money maker. Now in conjunction with this law, Maryland State police are going to increase DUI enforcement? Give me a break.

    DUIs in this state are a joke, and creating harsher penalties like this are really serving to protect the pockets of lawmakers, not the citizens of Maryland. This law even extends these required devices to people who have never driven under the influence, but have 2 other alcohol related convictions. How are more people not up in arms about this!?

  • Susan

    My husand and I have just learned that his ex-wife (convited of 3 DUIs in a 10 month period) and who has an MVA-MAB directed/required interlock on her car has been having their two minor children (14 and 12) blow into the interlock so she can drink and drive. Those alcoholics who are unable or unwilling to get and stay sober will find a way to get around the interlock – even it means putting their children at risk. Because the interlock does require a re-test while driving – typically every 10 – 15 minutes as previously commented – this means she is drinking and driving with the children in the car as they must be present to blow into the interlock when the system requires a re-test. This is the scary reality – parents bringing their children into their deceit and disease. MVA-MAB believes that she is sober as she has yet to have any violations but the truth is that she is drinking and driving at the cost of her children’s safety. The interlock works for some but not for all as in our case. We are and will continue do to whatever is necessary to keep the children safe but this is a warning to all others who blindly believe the interlock is stopping every convicted drunk driver from driving drunk.

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