Drunken driving bill passed by panel

March 31, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

A key Senate panel yesterday approved a bill that would strengthen Maryland's drunken driving laws by making a .10 percent blood-alcohol level absolute proof of intoxication.

The Judicial Proceedings Committee -- where many haexpected a pitched battle -- sent the bill to the Senate floor on a unanimous voice vote. A similar measure has already been approved by the House of Delegates.

Supporters believed Senate Bill 256 was in trouble in the Senatcommittee because the chairman, Sen. Walter M. Baker, a Cecil County Democrat, opposed it.

But the chairman voted for the bill after winning approval of an amendment that would require prosecutors to turn over to the accused the maintenance records of the Breathalyzer used to test the alcohol level.

State law now says a .10 percent blood-alcohol level is evidence of drunkenness, but not absolute proof. Critics of the law said many drunken drivers escape punishment because they are able to feign soberness.

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