Ignition interlocks for first-time DWI offenders

Michigan drivers might be interested in learning that Maryland just passed a law mandating ignition interlock systems for anyone convicted of driving while over the legal limit, including those for whom it is a first-time offense. There are now 26 states that require the device for first offenders, and several others are considering such legislation.

The law's passage as well as the drive to pass mandatory ignition interlock laws across the country is a result of a push by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. According to MADD, data shows that 1.7 million people who had been drinking have been prevented from starting their vehicles because of the systems. The organization also stated that the fatality rates in states that have passed these laws have dropped by 40 to 50 percent.

Ignition interlock systems will not let people start their vehicles if they have had anything to drink. Statistics show that of those stopped for driving under the influence, one-third had prior DWI convictions on their records.

People facing DWI charges may end up with severe penalties. They may be incarcerated, lose their driving privileges, have to install ignition interlock systems, perform community service and attend mandatory alcohol treatment. As a result, they may want to meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to start building a strategy to combat the charges. One possible defense is that the police did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle before making the arrest. Another could be a challenge to the way that field sobriety or breath tests were conducted. It is also possible in some cases to question the calibration of the Breathalyzer.