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

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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.

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