Md. bill would double penalty for drunken driving with child passenger

WASHINGTON — The penalty for drunken driving with a child in the car could double if a new bill becomes law in Maryland.

“The crime of DWI in Maryland while transporting a minor is on the rise,” said Kurt Erickson, president and CEO of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, testifying in favor of a new bill by Frederick County delegate Barrie Cilberti.

“Someone in Maryland is arrested every 37 hours for driving while impaired, with a child in the vehicle,” Erickson said.

Ciliberti presented House Bill 711 Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee, explaining how the bill increases punishment for the crime of driving while impaired by alcohol, while transporting a minor.

“What this bill does is increase the maximum incarceration penalty,” said Ciliberti. “It goes from six months to one year for the first offense, and from one year to two years for the second offense.”

Lisa Spicknall, of MADD Maryland, told lawmakers an increased penalty for this crime is warranted.

“Forty-seven states can currently charge additional charges,” said Spicknall. “From 2000 to 2009, 2,469 people under the age of 15 were killed as passengers of drunken drivers — that’s a staggering number.”

Erickson said between 2012 and 2016, the number of citations issued for DWI while transporting a child in Maryland increased by almost 27 percent.

Bill co-sponsor delegate Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, recounted how in his former job as an emergency room physician, he spent an entire evening trying to save children whose parents, under the influence of alcohol, had driven off the road into an icy pond.

“I still get goose bumps as I tell this story,” he said.


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