The Maryland General Assembly has before it an opportunity to prevent drunk driving crashes by expanding current Maryland law requiring ignition interlock systems for convicted drunk drivers ("How to reduce drunk driving," Feb. 27).
Widespread use of these in-car devices, which are about the size of a cell phone and prevent vehicles from starting if alcohol is detected on a driver's breath, is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and nearly every traffic safety organization including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Maryland already mandates ignition interlock for people convicted of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15, which is nearly twice the threshold for a DUI arrest. HB 872 and SB 395 would expand that to include people convicted of breaking the law by driving with a BAC of .08.
Opponents of widening the use of interlocks confuse the issue by separating drunk drivers into two categories: those they claim might have made a one-time mistake and those they call "hard core offenders."
Make no mistake, everyone who drives with a BAC of .08 or above is a threat to anyone in their path. Their judgment is slower, their ability to react is affected and it's illegal for them to get behind the wheel because science shows they are unable to drive safely.
In Maryland, almost 40 percent of the fatalities caused by drunk drivers in 2013 were caused by drivers with a .08 to .14 — the group that this legislation seeks to include. Whether their deaths were caused by "hardcore offenders" is completely irrelevant to the families destroyed by someone who selfishly chose to drive drunk.
Donna Hathaway Beck, Upper Marlboro