Program Type: Monitoring
Program Location: Maryland
Lead Agency: Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)
Partners: Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO)
The Issue: Intervention
Program Target Population: High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Offenders (.15% BAC and above)
Repeat Offenders

Program Description:

The Maryland Ignition Interlock Program monitors drivers who commit alcohol offenses and are referred to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) from a variety of sources, such as the MVA’s Medical Advisory Board (MAB), court as a condition of probation, through an administrative hearing, or an offender can voluntarily opt-in to the program in lieu of a suspension or a hearing. The MVA must review all fatality cases resulting in license revocation to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

All offenders convicted of a high BAC (BAC ≥ .15%), who are underage or convicted of certain repeat offenses are required to participate. Frequently, especially in cases where the licensee is referred by the MVA’s MAB or Reinstatement Review Section, installation of an ignition interlock is required as a condition of license reinstatement. When referred to MVA, participants choose one of 5 ignition interlock vendors at 75 sites around the state based on pricing, service location or any number of factors at the participant’s discretion. While offenders have an ignition interlock device installed, they are unable to start their car if their breath test registers a BAC of .026% or higher.

The MVA oversees communication with participants using a start-of-the-art electronic system in partnership with vendors in order to maintain expeditious processing. Vendors submit regular reports to the MVA, which then identifies violations and generates violation letters. Staff members (case managers) review each successful completion letter and program removal letter before they are delivered to the offending participants. Case managers and customer agents deal with questions and appeals from the participating (offending) drivers directly.

Each vendor is carefully examined by the MVA and site visits occur at least once a year.

Program Effectiveness:

The program currently has 9,700 participants. During participation, drunk-driving related offenses are lowered. The program is currently being evaluated based on the number of participants and overall responsiveness, and an analysis of the use of ignition interlocks on the number of DUI arrests, crashes and fatalities in Maryland is forthcoming.

Program Cost Effectiveness:

The electronic system used by the Ignition Interlock Program significantly mitigates MVA funding issues associated with the growth in number of participants and cost savings from paper processing.  It is also a cost savings for vendors since they don’t have to generate their own hard copy reports for monitoring participants.

To date, the MVA budget covers the cost of administering the program but (offender) participant fees, which began in October 2011, will eventually cover this cost.

Sources of Funding:

  • MVA budget
  • (Offender) participant  fees

Factors to Consider When Replicating the Program:

  • Funding to design and implement the electronic system
  • Educating courts on the use of interlock devices as a penalty option
  • Ensuring vendors comply with the MVA inspection process
  • More regulatory authority would be helpful in terms of program flexibility and innovation

For more information on this program, please contact:
JoAnn Schlachter

Thomas Liberatore