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Md. delegate calls for end to drunk driving with kids in car

Thursday - 2/27/2014, 9:51am  ET

WASHINGTON -- The penalty for driving drunk with a child in the car differs in Maryland depending on an offender's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), but one delegate is working to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes with children in the car.

"We need to protect these kids," says Maryland State Del. Sam Arora, D-Rockville, who says he believes anyone driving drunk with children in the car needs help.

"You're probably quite sick. You may not be able to stop yourself. This is an instance where we need to step in and stop you from harming your children and other children on the road," says Arora, referring to cases of drunk drivers being stopped by police repeatedly in one day with kids in the car.

Arora and Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore, are proposing legislation to lower the threshold needed to require "ignition interlock" breathalyzer devices to be installed on the cars of people convicted of driving under the influence with a child younger than 16 years old in the car.

"The only way to stop this behavior is to make sure your car can't move unless you're sober," says Arora.

The current Maryland law requiring interlock devices for cars of those convicted of impaired driving with a child in the car is sometimes referred to as the "super drunk" standard of .15 BAC. The proposal is to lower that to .08 BAC which is the level at which people may not drive legally.

The bill is being considered by the Maryland House Judiciary Committee that rejected it last year. Arora says he thinks the legislation stands a better chance this year.

"The incidences of people driving drunk with children is on the rise. It's increased 20 percent over the last couple years," says Arora.

During a committee meeting, Kurt Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program, submitted testimony about the gravity that can come with drunk driving with minors.

"On average, someone in Maryland is arrested every 19 hours for driving while impaired by alcohol and or drugs while also transporting a minor," Erikson said in the testimony, according to a news release.

"This is alarming," Arora says.

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