Maryland Passes Noah’s Law to Clamp Down on Repeat DUI Offenders

In May 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an anti-DUI bill into law aimed at preventing convicted drunk drivers from getting back behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. “Noah’s Law” was named in memory of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by a DUI driver as he conducted anti-drunk driving law enforcement over the holiday season.

On Dec. 3, 2015, Officer Leotta made a traffic stop at Rockville Pike and Edmonston Drive in Rockville, Maryland. While outside of his cruiser, he was struck and critically injured by Luis Gustavo Reluzco, 47, whose blood alcohol tested .22 — nearly three times the legal limit. Officer Leotta died a week later from his injuries. He was 24 years old.

The police officer’s death created an outcry from his family, law enforcement officers and concerned citizens for Maryland to get tougher on penalties for drunk drivers and to prevent future DUI-related deaths and injuries. Noah’s Law strives to do that by now requiring anyone convicted of drunk driving in Maryland to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Prior to the passage of Noah’s Law, only repeat drunk drivers in Maryland were required to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a cell phone that drivers blow into prior to starting their vehicles. If the device detects a measureable amount of alcohol in the driver’s system — the vehicle won’t start. The theory behind the devices is that they allow those accused of drunk driving to be able to drive to and from work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other destinations “safe and sober.”

Now Maryland joins more than 30 other states which require interlock ignition devices for all drivers after their first drunk driving conviction. According to the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) website: “The average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before a first arrest, and on any given day, your family shares the roadways with more than 2 million drunk drivers who have had three or more prior convictions.”

MADD reports that since Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico passed their all-offender ignition interlock laws, those states have seen drunk driving deaths drop by more than 30 percent. Also, CDC research reports a two-thirds reduction in re-arrest rates for drunk driving offenses due to interlock devices.

From now on, Maryland drivers convicted of drunk driving will have the breathalyzer ignition interlock device installed in their cars. The driver who struck and killed Officer Leotta admitted to drinking whisky and beer for four hours prior to the fatal motor vehicle accident. Bethesda Magazine reports he had prior drunk driving arrests in Montgomery County and Delaware. The man plead guilty to vehicular homicide in April 2016 and may face up to 10 years in prison.

Sources:

Maryland Governor Hogan signs ‘Noah’s Law’ requiring ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers
FOX5 May 19, 2016

Drunk driver who killed Officer Noah Leotta to plead guilty
Washington Post April 14, 2016

Officer Noah Leotta, 24, Dies After Being Hit by Suspected DUI Driver
NBC4 Washington Dec. 10, 2015

Sober to Start: Ignition Interlocks
MADD

Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Ignition Interlocks
USA.gov — The Community Guide