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TOWSON, MD (Wednesday, February 26, 2020) –– As the House Judiciary Committee hears testimony today at 1 p.m. for proposed legislation related to vehicle laws and traffic safety, AAA Mid-Atlantic is weighing in.
Legislation AAA Mid-Atlantic Supports:
HB 952 – Drunk Driving Offenses – Ignition Interlock System Program is sponsored by Delegates Atterbeary and Lewis. The bill, if passed, closes a loop hole in Noah’s Law. The bill mandates participation in the Maryland Interlock Ignition System Program (IISP) for those granted probation before judgment (PBJ) for driving while under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of alcohol per se, including for an offense committed while transporting a minor. The legislation also applies to an offender convicted of or granted PBJ for driving while impaired by alcohol, including for an offense committed while transporting a minor.
SB 870 – Drunk Driving Offenses – Ignition Interlock System Program is sponsored by Senator Waldstreicher. SB 870 is the Senate companion bill to HB 952, which closes a loop hole in Noah’s Law. The Senate version will be heard in the Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday, February 27, at noon.
According to the Maryland Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, the use of ignition interlock systems has been shown to lead to long-lasting changes in driver behavior and the reduction of recidivism. The Task Force concluded that states which have extended required times for ignition interlock use for certain drunk driving offenses have experienced a 60 – 95% decrease in recidivism.
“In spite of all the strides, drunk driving continues to plague our nation and the state of Maryland, despite being a totally preventable crime,” said Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Interlocks are no panacea, but they are another tool that, when used as part of a solution for drivers with persistent alcohol problems, can help keep them from driving after they have been drinking and, thus, save lives on Maryland roads.”
HB 808 – Drugged Driving - Oral Fluid Tests - Pilot Program is sponsored by Delegates Valentino-Smith, M. Jackson, Bartlett, and P. Young. HB 808 would establish a pilot program to examine the testing of oral fluid samples by certain police officers to assist in determining whether an individual is operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is or has been driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, this bill authorizes a police officer certified as a drug recognition expert to request a driver submit to a laboratory-based drug test with oral fluid collection devices. HB 808 will also be heard in the House Judiciary Committee today at 1 p.m. AAA supported the Senate version, SB 309, sponsored by Senator Kagan last week.
AAA Mid-Atlantic and other highway safety advocates believe that substance-impaired driving is an issue of national traffic-safety concern, and a growing body of evidence suggests driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol is becoming an increasing threat to motorists.
“AAA supports efforts to improve the state of knowledge on drug-impaired driving, including drug testing of fatally-injured drivers, more accurate reporting of drug impairment in crashes, and the development of standard protocols or procedures for forensic toxicology laboratories supporting DUID investigations,” said Ali. “Results of oral fluid drug screening should be used to build physical evidence for a substance-impaired driving charge. Impairment should not be determined solely on test results.”
Legislation AAA Mid-Atlantic Opposes:
HB 920 – Motor Vehicles - Motorcycles - Overtaking and Passing Vehicles is sponsored by Delegates Szeliga, Arentz, Jacobs, Johnson, and Mautz. HB 920 would require the Motor Vehicle Administration to adopt guidelines for the operation of a motorcycle on a roadway that is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic and repeal provisions of law that prohibit an operator of a motorcycle on certain roadways from overtaking and passing in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken, and from operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lanes or rows of vehicles. HB 920 will be heard in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on Thursday, February 27, at 1 p.m.
AAA opposes legalizing lane-splitting where currently prohibited. It is currently against the law in Maryland for an operator of a motorcycle to overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by a vehicle being overtaken. In addition, “a person may not operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
“AAA research, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, found that blind spot monitoring systems detected motorcycles on average 26% later than they detect full-size sedans, said Ali. “Speed differential is an important factor in determining crash risk, as larger differences in speed between vehicles are related to higher crash rates. AAA opposes legislation that would leave motorcycle riders and drivers vulnerable to unsafe operation on Maryland roads.”
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