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Promising Criminal Justice Programs for DWI Offenders: Maryland Ignition Interlock Program

The Maryland Ignition Interlock Program monitors drivers who commit alcohol offenses and are referred to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) from a variety of sources, such as the MVA’s Medical Advisory Board (MAB), court as a condition of probation, through an administrative hearing, or an offender can voluntarily opt-in to the program in lieu of a suspension or a hearing. The MVA must review all fatality cases resulting in license revocation to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

All offenders convicted of a high BAC (BAC ≥ .15%), who are underage or convicted of certain repeat offenses are required to participate. Frequently, especially in cases where the licensee is referred by the MVA’s MAB or Reinstatement Review Section, installation of an ignition interlock is required as a condition of license reinstatement. When referred to MVA, participants choose one of 5 ignition interlock vendors at 75 sites around the state based on pricing, service location or any number of factors at the participant’s discretion. While offenders have an ignition interlock device installed, they are unable to start their car if their breath test registers a BAC of .026% or higher.

The MVA oversees communication with participants using a start-of-the-art electronic system in partnership with vendors in order to maintain expeditious processing. Vendors submit regular reports to the MVA, which then identifies violations and generates violation letters. Staff members (case managers) review each successful completion letter and program removal letter before they are delivered to the offending participants. Case managers and customer agents deal with questions and appeals from the participating (offending) drivers directly.

The program currently has over 9,000 participants every month. During participation, drunk-driving related offenses are lowered. The program is currently being evaluated based on the number of participants and overall responsiveness, and an analysis of the use of ignition interlocks on the number of DUI arrests, crashes and fatalities in Maryland is forthcoming.

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With our Judicial Education Advisory Committee, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has developed a compilation of promising programs across the nation for dealing with DWI offenders in the criminal justice community. It is our hope that by sharing these programs with stakeholders in the criminal justice field that new, innovative programs can be developed in every state to deal more comprehensively with DWI offenders.

Please contact Jaime S. Alvis, Director of Government Relations & Traffic Safety at The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, if you know of any other promising programs that should be included in this compilation.

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