AAA Mid-Atlantic Supports Bills To Stiffen Repeat Impaired Driving Penalties

It would make it a felony. subject to imprisonment.


Towson, Md (KM) AAA Mid-Atlantic is supporting legislation in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly to improve highway safety. Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public at Government Affairs for AAA, says the auto club favors a bill covering repeat drunk and drugged driving offenders. “This bill, if passed, will actually increase the penalties for repeat impaired driving offenders,” she says. “So if you have been previously been convicted of three or more alcohol and drugged driving-related offenses, this would actually make it a felony.” The offender would also subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Averella says a survey by AAA found that a lot of respondents consider drunk and drugged driving to be a major concern. “In AAA’s  most recent 2018-2019 traffic safety poll, 24% of Maryland drivers indicated that drunk or drugged driving was their number-one traffic safety concern,” she said.

Another bill receiving the support of AAA Mid-Atlantic this year would increase the fine to $500 for motorists who continue to talk,  or send text messages over their hand held  phones while driving.. “On any given day or any given roadway across our state, if you look to your right or left, you’ll see a motorist continuing to talk on their phone while holding it, or texting while driving, or, unfortunately in some cases, trying to post to social media. So it’s a very, very real concern,” says Averella.

She also says distracted driving is a big concern among motorists, according to an AAA poll on traffic safety. “37% of Maryland drivers actually view distracted driving as their number-one traffic safety concern, even more exceeding that of what we see for drunk and drugged driving,” says Averella.

But AAA Mid-Atlantic is opposed to a bill requiring state transportation agencies from constructing toll roads, highways and bridges without the consent of a majority of the affected counties and local jurisdictions. The auto club says this would cancel or delay much needed transportation projects, such as the expansion of I-270. “We at AAA recognize that these projects are absolutely essential to relieving congestion and providing a safe and efficient transportation system for Marylanders. So we certainly are in opposition to this as well as any of the other bills that would limit the state’s authority to make our roads less congested,” she says.

Averalla notes that state agencies often work closely with local governments when a major transportation project is being considered for their areas long before any construction activity begins.


By Kevin McManus