Study: Maryland may be too lenient on drunk drivers
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration, there were 7,321 accidents involving impaired drivers in 2013, 2,351 of which caused injuries, and 138 of which resulted in fatalities. The state has laws in place to deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking as well as consequences for those convicted of doing so.
However, according to a recent study, the current system may be too lax. Reportedly, Maryland ranks at the bottom in the country among other states and Washington, D.C., when it comes taking a harsh stance against drunk driving.
WalletHub.com released the study in August of this year. Researchers sought to evaluate a number of factors to determine how well states were cracking down on dangerous drunk drivers. Among the determinants considered were the following:
- Minimum jail sentences for first and second convictions
- If the state imposed additional penalties for higher blood alcohol concentrations
- What constitutes an automatic felony DUI
- Minimum fines for DUI convictions
- Whether or not there is a law in place regarding DUI and child endangerment
The study also took into account prevention efforts, such as instituting a mandatory ignition interlock program, mandatory abuse treatment and if the state allows sobriety checkpoints.
Overall, Maryland’s ability to prevent and punish drunk driving was ranked at 45 out of 51. The state came in last when looking at just criminal penalties and 17th in terms of prevention. This is based on certain truths, such as a lack of a minimum sentence for offenders and the fact that there is not a circumstance in which repeat DUI charges automatically become a felony.
There are some bright points, however, as state law does require that there is a mandatory alcohol assessment program in which convicted drunk drivers must participate. There is also a mandatory ignition interlock period of 12 months and a mandatory license suspension period of 90 days.
Recourse for victims of DUI accidents
It is clear that Maryland may have some work to do to keep drunk drivers off the streets. In the meantime, people who fall victim to the serious car accidents these drivers cause should understand that they do have recourse. The state permits them to file personal injury lawsuits, which must be done within three years of the incident. Failing to initiate the claim in this timeframe could result in a case dismissal.
These lawsuits can enable people to recover compensation for losses, such as medical bills, pain and suffering and missed wages. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Maryland.