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Drunk drivers may enter the ignition interlock program

Maryland has the ninth-highest ignition interlock usage rate in the country. The program, monitored by the Motor Vehicle Administration, has been in force since 1989, and it works. Depending on the charge, the consequences require some drivers to enter the program. Others may elect to participate instead of requesting a hearing for their drunk driving charge and to regain their suspended or revoked driver's license.

The goal of installing an ignition interlock device on a vehicle is to prevent someone charged with drunk driving from repeating the offense and to ensure that he or she will be taking to the road as a sober driver.

A simple but effective tool

The ignition interlock device is small, about the size of a mobile phone, and it attaches to the wiring beneath your dashboard and under your hood, connecting the ignition system to a breathalyzer. If you intend to drive the car, you must breath into the mouthpiece of the device, which will then measure your breath alcohol concentration level. If you have a BAC higher than .025, the device will prevent the car from starting. If you do pass, there will be random "retests," but these will not require you to pull over and you can continue to drive.

How long the program lasts

If you choose to participate, the authorities will test you for your BAC level. If it is between 0.08 and 0.15 percent, you will be in the program for 180 days. If the level was higher than 0.15, or if you refused to submit to the test, you will be placed in the program for one year. The device is reliable and the program effective. According to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, ignition interlock devices are 90 percent effective in preventing participants from committing another drunk driving offense.

Mandatory participation

As of October 1, 2016, under Noah's Law, the interlock ignition program is mandatory for some drivers, including those charged either with DUI or driving while impaired, or DWI, if a minor under the age of 16 was a passenger in the car. If you have been charged with drunk driving, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will explain your options, including the ignition interlock program, and help resolve your case in the most positive manner possible.

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