The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has established a comprehensive set of plans designed to reduce the problem of impaired driving across the state. Data for the 2011 to 2015 period indicated that roughly 33% of fatal accidents and 10% of all crashes involved an impaired driver. The state is planning to heighten enforcement of DUI laws for the safety of innocent people.
Dangers of Impaired Driving
The legal threshold for vehicle operation is a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08%. At this level, drivers are roughly four times more likely to be involved in a collision and those with a .15% BAC have a 12 times greater likelihood. The Transport Research Laboratory has been conducting this testing by creating simulated road obstructions and various other variables.
Those with a .08% BAC have approximately 13% slower reaction times and tend to fail to recognize emerging dangers. Those found to be operating under the influence are increasingly likely to face criminal penalties. When very severe injuries are caused by Maryland drivers who are operating under the influence, they may be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a $5,000 penalty and three years of incarceration.
Current Statewide Impaired Driving Measures
The Maryland Highway Safety Office explains that sobriety checkpoints are most effective when conducted at night. Officers may execute checkpoints in conjunction with speed enforcement to identify those more likely to be intoxicated. These checkpoints are an effective deterrent and may be operated with minimal manpower and potentially as a “phantom” or unmanned site.
The Maryland State Police are employing multiple patrol cars assigned to certain counties in saturation patrols. These officers function as a team and are in constant communication. Awareness about the program is supported by signs, message boards, press releases and social media.
The Maryland State Police also engage in saturating smaller areas they deem to be “hot spots” for impaired driving. Lieutenant Prendi Garcia, of the Eastern Barracks unit, says that “overlapping of troopers” is the best way to target them. These efforts have proven effective, as accident reports were reduced by 45%.
Both Anne Arundel and Howard County have implemented specialized DUI Court Programs. These courts use an effective system of prosecution, monitoring, and alcohol treatment. Funding was also secured for prosecutors to attend training at the University of Maryland.
Baltimore County is one that is adding more trained Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). These officers are specialists in detecting if drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They use enhanced field tests and a 12-point method of evaluation.
Institute of Advanced Law Enforcement
The University of Maryland is offering an excellent instructional program for members of law enforcement. Some of the related curricula include ways of countering impaired driving, enhanced methods in field sobriety testing, and courtroom and trial training. Those completing the instruction are in a better position for being leaders in DUI enforcement within their departments.
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