New penalties for drunk drivers with children on board [Letter]

While The Baltimore Sun attempted to summarize the "more than 2,600 bills" considered by Maryland's General Assembly which adjourned this week in Annapolis ("Minimum-wage hike, new marijuana laws approved as session ends," April 8), it failed to even mention legislation currently en route to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk that addresses an increasing crime in Maryland.

The bill (House Bill 1015), sponsored for the third consecutive year by Montgomery County Del. Sam Arora, penalizes Maryland's increasing number of persons convicted of alcohol-impaired driving while transporting a child with the mandatory installation of ignition interlocks in the offenders' motor vehicles.

On average, someone in Maryland is arrested every 19 hours for driving while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs while also transporting a minor. Delegate Arora's bill, which passed both Maryland's House of Delegates and Senate with unanimous votes, addresses this egregious crime.

The University of Maryland's National Study Center for Trauma and Emergency Medical Systems reported that Maryland recorded 465 arrests in 2012 for driving while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs while also transporting a minor. The National Study Center's findings also conclude that the crime of DUI in Maryland while transporting a minor is on the rise as citations for such have increased by double digit figures between 2009 and 2012.

In successfully advocating for this potentially lifesaving legislation, the bill's sponsor rightfully stated that "every child deserves a designated driver." House Bill 1015 ensures as much by sentencing DUI offenders who were also transporting persons under 16 years of age to the same enhanced penalties afforded to the state's equally egregious repeat and high-blood alcohol concentration drunk drivers.

Kurt Gregory Erickson, Vienna, Va.

The writer is president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

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