Jessup, MD – The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) joined law enforcement officials today at the Maryland State Police (MSP) Barrack in Howard County to warn motorists traveling this long holiday weekend – “make a plan” for a safe and sober ride, or the consequences could be severe.
“Drunk or drugged drivers are involved in more than a third of Maryland’s roadway deaths each year,” said MDOT Deputy Secretary Jim Ports. “We need everyone to plan a safe ride home. Lives truly are on the line.”
Between 2011 and 2015 in Maryland, more than 19,000 persons were either were killed or injured in a crash where drugs and/or alcohol were involved. More than 56 percent of all impaired-driving related crashes occur on a Friday, Saturday, or early Sunday.
“The long weekend and Independence Day holiday mean more travel, more parties and a higher potential for dangerous drivers to get behind the wheel,” said Maryland State Police (MSP) Lt. Colonel Frank Lioi. “We have an elite team of troopers whose primary mission is to identify and arrest impaired drivers and they will be out in force this holiday weekend.”
The team, known as the State Police Impaired DRiving Effort, or SPIDRE, has been responsible for more than 2,200 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests since its inception in 2013. The team is comprised of seven troopers and is co-funded by MSP and MDOT to combat impaired driving. SPIDRE’s troopers work in areas where the data take them – where impaired driving is found to be a leading cause of death and injury. The team often partners with local police agencies to strengthen its efforts.
“We’re proud to partner with the SPIDRE team,” said Baltimore County Police Department Lt. Colonel Alexander Jones. “Our message is simple: if you drive under the influence, you will be caught.”
Besides the risk of causing injury or death, driving under the influence may result in an arrest, which could lead to jail time, extensive legal costs, and fines. In addition, as part of the recently enacted Noah’s Law, drivers convicted of DUI are required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath and requires the driver to retest at random points while driving. Maryland has one of the most robust and successful interlock programs in the country.
“Enjoy your holiday weekend with friends and family but remember to only drive if you are sober and make sure everyone buckles up, every time,” said Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative Christine Nizer. “Seat belts are your best defense in a crash.”
Additionally, as motorists travel this upcoming weekend, MDOT also stresses patience as travelers hit the roads for the 4th of July weekend. Active construction is suspended during the holiday weekend, but heavy congestion is anticipated, particularly on routes like US 50 and MD 404 heading toward Ocean City and I-95 north toward Delaware.