Maryland Governor Larry Hogan joined state officials and over a hundred family members and friends of victims of impaired driving crashes for the 16th annual Maryland Remembers ceremony.
Maryland Remembers honors the lives and legacies of Marylanders who have been killed in impaired driving crashes.
During the ceremony, Governor Hogan presented the Kevin Quinlan Award to retired Maryland State Police Lieutenant and the state’s current Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Coordinator Thomas Woodward for his work and advocacy in preventing impaired driving.
The ceremony included Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi, Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administrator (MDOT MVA) Chrissy Nizer, and highway safety advocates from the Maryland Affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).
“Too many Maryland families have been shattered and too many lives have been cut short, which is why we will never stop fighting to prevent more needless deaths from drunk or drugged driving,” said Governor Hogan. “On behalf of all the citizens of our state, let me say thank you and God bless you for choosing to speak out about the heartbreak you have endured, thank you for your courage and your bravery, and thank you for channeling your unimaginable grief and pain into such a positive effort to save lives and help keep others from experiencing the same loss.”
The annual event – held this year at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis – takes place at the beginning of the holiday season, when impaired driving crashes tend to increase. In 2018, of the more than 19,000 people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, approximately 2,225 arrests occurred from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Maryland is at the forefront of the national effort to stop the increasingly dangerous trend of impaired driving. Earlier this year, following a mult-iyear effort, Governor Hogan enacted House Bill 707, which increases penalties for those convicted of a DUI or DWI for first-time and subsequent offenders.
The penalties include increased fines and jail time for repeat offenders and the doubling of penalties for first and repeat offenders if they transport a minor while impaired by drugs or alcohol. In 2016, the governor enacted Noah’s Law, a measure that expanded Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program to mandate that interlock devices be installed in vehicles of convicted drunk drivers even for the first conviction.
“Maryland State Police, along with our law enforcement partners throughout the state, are committed to ensuring the safety of our citizens,” said Colonel Pallozzi. “Officers will be out during the holiday season targeting those who have made the reckless decision to get behind the wheel while impaired.”
From 2014 to 2018, nearly 800 people were killed and 16,000 were injured in impaired driving crashes in Maryland. Impairment caused by alcohol and/or drugs is a contributing factor in roughly one-third of highway fatalities and serious injuries each year.
“Impaired driving crashes are no accident, and the resulting injuries and deaths from these crashes are completely preventable,” said Administrator Nizer, who also serves as Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Always make a plan for a safe and sober ride home.”
In August, MDOT MVA debuted the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says could help reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 60 percent. The system works by measuring the level of alcohol on a driver’s naturally exhaled breath. MDOT MVA is piloting the technology on several of its fleet vehicles.
“There is never a good reason to get behind the wheel of a car and drive impaired, which is why we must continue to do everything in our power to save lives and to prevent future tragedies,” said Governor Hogan.
As a reminder of the impact of impaired driving, a Maryland Remembers Memory Stone will be placed on state grounds in Annapolis.