Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Accidents

Last year, Maryland became one of 28 states requiring anyone cited for driving under the influence to use an ignition interlock device—not just repeat offenders. Drivers must install the devices inside their vehicles in the dashboard area. They then blow into the device, which reads their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and determines whether they can start their motor vehicles.

Critics who opposed the expanded Maryland law say these breathalyzer devices unfairly penalize first offenders who don’t have a history of drunk driving. However, a study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reports that far more lives are saved when everyone convicted of drunk driving offenses uses the interlock devices.

The Maryland law requires people cited for a number of offenses to use the ignition interlock device. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), these offenses include…

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In May 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an anti-DUI bill into law aimed at preventing convicted drunk drivers from getting back behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. “Noah’s Law” was named in memory of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by a DUI driver as he conducted anti-drunk driving law enforcement over the holiday season.

On Dec. 3, 2015, Officer Leotta made a traffic stop at Rockville Pike and Edmonston Drive in Rockville, Maryland. While outside of his cruiser, he was struck and critically injured by Luis Gustavo Reluzco, 47, whose blood alcohol tested .22 — nearly three times the legal limit. Officer Leotta died a week later from his injuries. He was 24 years old.

The police officer’s death created an outcry from his family, law enforcement officers and concerned citizens for Maryland to get tougher on penalties for drunk drivers and to prevent future DUI-related deaths and injuries. Noah’s Law strives to do that by now requiring anyone convicted of drunk driving in Maryland to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

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All 50 states, including Maryland, define drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent as a crime. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to lower that threshold to .05 BAC to further reduce the number of drunk driving accident injuries and deaths. Currently about 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed every year in alcohol related motor vehicle crashes. The NTSB feels those are 10,000 good reasons to re-examine the nation’s legal definition of drunken driving.

In the early 1980s, public safety awareness groups brought more attention to the issue of drunk driving, with many states establishing a rate of .15 BAC to demonstrate intoxication. Over the next two decades, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought more attention to this deadly traffic safety problem, with all states adopting a .08 BAC by 2004.

According to, “The number of alcohol-related highway fatalities…dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 9,878 in 2011, the NTSB said.”

Long holiday weekends statistically rack up more fatal drunk driving crashes than normal weekends. According to national traffic accident data, Memorial Day Weekend is the deadliest of all holiday weekends on U.S. roads and highways. Statistics showing holiday weekend traffic crash fatalities in order of most people killed are as follows:

Memorial Day: 473 killed (42% alcohol impaired driving)

New Year’s Day: 468 killed (40% alcohol impaired driving)

What’s worse than a drunk driver on Maryland roadways putting themselves and other motorists and pedestrians at risk? A drunk driver with kids in the car. Baltimore County drunk driving accident injury lawyers like us will tell you…motor vehicle crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers involving innocent children are some of the most heart-breaking cases we handle.

Maryland State Delegate Sam Arora (D – Montgomery County) would agree – and wants to prevent such reckless behavior from happening by adding teeth to Maryland DUI laws. Mr. Arora is sponsoring a new bill at the Maryland State House that would require drunk drivers caught transporting children while under the influence of alcohol to install an ignition lock device in their vehicles – and check their sobriety every time they attempt to drive.

Maryland House Bill 0032, “Drunk Driving – Transporting Minor – Ignition Interlock System Program,” sponsored by Delegate Arora, was pre-filed in the House on Sept. 4, 2012 and is scheduled for First Reading by the Judiciary for Jan. 9, 2013.

When it comes to tragic stories about injury and death on Maryland roads and highways, an experienced Hunt Valley, Md. personal injury lawyer has heard plenty. Our job is to help grieving clients through the legal process when a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic crash, and another party is held liable. The stories we hear are heartbreaking, especially when traffic accidents could have been prevented. Drunk driving crashes fall in this category. A moment of poor judgment can lead to a life of heartache and regret — on all sides.

While the holidays are a joyous time, each one brings the risk of celebrants drinking too much and getting behind the wheel. With Thanksgiving being the most heavily travelled time of year, the risk of being in a serious Maryland car accident — whether caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted driving, speeding, or other risk factors — increases. In fact, the volume of cars and trucks on MD roadways is expected to increase this Thanksgiving week.

AAA predicts a 3.5 percent increase in overall 2011 Thanksgiving travel (including auto travel, air travel, and travel by rail), The Baltimore Sun reports.

In our 20+ years of work as Baltimore County, Maryland drunk driver accident injury lawyers, we’ve seen firsthand the terrible toll drunk driving crashes take on individuals and families. In an instant, lives are changed forever. In 2009, 162 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Maryland — an increase from the 145 Md. drunk-driving fatalities in 2008*. People who survive these crashes may suffer serious injuries, including debilitating brain and spine injuries. All because someone got behind the wheel and drove under the influence of alcohol in Maryland.

Baltimore County, Md. injury attorneys understand the grief families suffer when a drunk driving crash claims the life of a loved one. Maryland law enforcers also work with families who suffer tremendous loss in these traffic crashes. In fact, police are charged with the unimaginably difficult task of informing a family that a loved one has been killed in a drunk driving crash.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) announced a new training program to help law enforcement learn how to inform families of a drunk driving related death. MADD found that police officers are often not adequately trained to deliver such unthinkable news. According to a MADD blog article:

Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us. Here in Baltimore County, Md. and around the country, the long holiday weekend gives people one last chance to enjoy some R&R with family and friends before the fall school schedule swings into gear. Like all other holiday weekends, Labor Day is also a time of heavier traffic … and alcohol consumption.

More alcohol + more traffic on Maryland roads and highways is a bad combination that leads to serious and deadly Baltimore County auto accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced its annual public awareness campaign to curb alcohol and drug impaired driving now through Labor Day Weekend. NHTSA’s Impaired Driving Division works cooperatively with law enforcement partners to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic-related healthcare and economic costs resulting from impaired driving (that is, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs).

As of this past April, 37 states had laws on the books holding liquor vendors liable or partially liable for serving patrons who become intoxicated and then get in drunk driving auto accidents causing injury, death, or damages. These are called “dram shop acts” or “dram shop laws” — and Maryland is not among states with such laws in place.

This is in part why a fatal DUI car accident case out of Montgomery County, Maryland, is garnering attention.

According to media reports, in Aug. 2008, a Fairfax, Va. man was consuming drinks at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg, Md. News reports state that the individual consumed a staggering 14 drinks and 2 shots — before starting a second tab. Restaurant staff reportedly served the individual 3 more beers and another shot, after which he got behind the wheel of his Land Rover. He reportedly drove south on Interstate 270 at speeds between 88 and 98 mph, crashing into a Jeep Grand Cherokee and killing a 10 year old girl sitting in the back. The child’s guardians sued the restaurant for $3.25 million in Dec. 2010.

Blame it on the economy and high gas prices…and maybe a little Maryland driver fatigue.

AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that Maryland traffic this 4th of July holiday weekend will be 2 percent lighter than last year, with an estimated 760,000 Maryland drivers taking to our state’s roads and highways. Those who aren’t piling into their cars, minivans, and SUVs to seek fun in the Maryland sun may opt for the “staycation” alternative instead. That is, leaving the family auto parked in the driveway is cheaper and safer than jockeying with other July 4 motorists.

But fewer July 4 holiday drivers doesn’t mean driving this weekend in Maryland is without risks. Any holiday brings with it the risk of drunk driving accidents. A cooler full of beer is a backyard barbecue staple at many homes — particularly on a hot Fourth of July afternoon.

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