By Pat Warren

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) – Stop drunk drivers before they start.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports state lawmakers are being asked to require first time drunk driving offenders to have ignition interlock systems put on their cars.

Some lawmakers are asking that some drivers blow, before they go.

Paula Celentano believes an ignition interlock system could have saved her 18-year-old daughter.

“There’s not a day that goes by that it does not affect something that I do,” said Celentano.

It was the driver’s second offense. 

This mother, who lost her child to a drunk driver, joined others in Annapolis advocating mandatory ignition interlock systems for first time drunk drivers.

“And I stand here with all the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and anyone else who has lost a family member or someone that they love to a drunk driver,” said Celentano.

Supporters include Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and AAA.

AAA’s Ragina Averella was a Baltimore police officer when two city officers were killed by a drunk driver.

“Two of my friends and colleagues, Sergeant John Platt and Officer Kevin McCarthy, were killed in the line of duty when Shane Daniel Weeks ran a red light and slammed his pick-up truck into Kevin and John’s cruiser,” said Averella.

A passenger in the pick-up survived.

“Two officers were dead, and I mean, I just started crying. I couldn’t believe it,” said truck survivor.

Opponents of the bill say the penalty is too harsh for a first offense, but bill sponsor Senator Jamie Raskin says it’s necessary to modify behavior to save lives.

“If we had been able to do it a decade ago, we could have saved over 600 lives,” said Raskin.

Mandatory ignition interlock systems passed the Senate last year. The challenge will be to have it pass in the House, where the bill never made it out of committee.

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.


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