Maryland Gov. Proposes DUI Legislation
By: Mike Stetzer
On Jan. 26, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley proposed legislation to impose tougher penalties for DUI offenders.
The Washington Post reported that O'Malley's legislation was among more than 20 bills, most of which would cost the state little or nothing, which the governor plans to push in the current General Assembly session.
The bills also include new restrictions on teen driving privileges and plans to reintroduce a bill that died last year that would authorize the use of speed cameras across the state - unsurprising priorities given that "Improving Public Safety" tops O'Malley's announced 2009 Legislative Goals.
The DUI bill would implement some recommendations made by a state DUI task force, including a mandatory one-year license suspension for a second DUI conviction during a five-year period for alcohol or drug
The proposal comes as many states are considering more stringent punishments for DUI. Currently, the state legislatures in Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Wyoming are all debating new DUI laws.
Among the other bills being proposed by O'Malley are measures to delay teens' ability to obtain a driver's license by three months. Under current law, people 15 years and 9 months old are eligible to obtain learner's permits. The bill would push the minimum age for a learner's permit to 16, and a full driver's license to the age of 18.
The bill would also put an 11 p.m. curfew on drivers younger than 18, rather than the current midnight deadline. Additionally, the bill includes several tougher penalties for moving violations committed by drivers under the age of 18.
Last year, a number of bills to restrict teen drivers failed in Maryland. Lawmakers who opposed the restrictions said that parents, not legislation, should make these decisions.