MDOT MVA, State Troopers and Local Law Enforcement Officers Warn Motorists of Impaired Driving Risk During Fourth of July Weekend
The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) and law enforcement officials are touting the success of the elite State Police Impaired DRiving Effort – or SPIDRE – team, and are urging motorists to plan for a safe and sober ride during the Fourth of July weekend or risk the consequences of being caught in SPIDRE’s web.
“It’s unacceptable that impaired driving crashes account for one-third of Maryland roadway fatalities each year,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “In order to arrive safely at your destination, buckle up and drive sober. If you are drinking, make a plan for a safe ride home.”
Between 2014 and 2018, 731 people died and nearly 11,000 were injured in drug and/or alcohol-involved crashes in Maryland. Administrator Nizer joined state and local officials today at the Maryland State Police (MSP) barrack in Howard County to discuss reducing fatalities and Fourth of July weekend safety.
“One of the highest priorities for Maryland State Police is to ensure the safety of all those traveling on Maryland roads and highways,” said Maj. Roland Butler, assistant chief of the MSP Field Operations Bureau. “The injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of someone’s poor decision to get behind the wheel while impaired are preventable, which is why we continue to stress the importance of sober driving.”
Formed in 2013, SPIDRE is a specially trained team of seven troopers who work in targeted areas where impaired driving is a leading cause of death and injury. Since its inception SPIDRE has been responsible for more than 3,000 arrests for suspected driving under the influence. Team members train other state police troopers and local law enforcement officers, and partner with local police departments and agencies to reduce alcohol related crashes throughout Maryland. MSP and MDOT provide funding for this effort.
“We’re proud to partner with the SPIDRE team to make our roads safer,” said Baltimore County Police Department Lt. Steve Scherba, who attended Tuesday’s event. “If you drive under the influence, you will be caught.”
Besides the risk of causing injury or death, driving under the influence or while intoxicated may result in an arrest, jail time, extensive legal costs and fines. Under the 2016 implementation of Noah’s Law, drivers convicted of DUI are also required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program.
Consequences for first-time and repeat DUI/DWI offenders will increase on October 1, 2019, including:
- an increase in maximum sentencing for third-time offenders from three to five years, and from three to 10 years for fourth-time offenders;
- an additional penalty of up to 10 years in prison for a DUI/DWI offender with a prior conviction who causes death or life-threatening injury while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs;
- an increase in jail time from three to five years for anyone convicted of vehicular homicide while impaired by drugs, and from five to 10 years if the offender has a prior DUI/DWI; and
- doubling the penalty for first-time and subsequent offenders if they transport a minor while impaired.
As drivers take to the road during the Independence Day holiday, MDOT MVA reminds drivers to be patient, leave extra time and avoid aggressive driving as heavy traffic volume is anticipated. To plan ahead, visit www.md511.org for traffic information or connect to 511 from a hands-free mobile device.
The state is working to reduce crashes due to impaired driving and other causes through its Strategic Highway Safety Plan, and its success is due to the involvement of the law enforcement community. Learn more about the MDOT Highway Safety Office’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign at towardzerodeathsmd.com, on Facebook at @towardzerodeathsmd, on Twitter at @tzd_maryland, and on Instagram at twdzerodeaths_md.