Push to pass ‘Noah’s Law’ down to the wire in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — It’s getting down to brass tacks for the bill called Noah’s Law.

Named for Montgomery County police officer Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunk driver last year, the measure would broadly expand the use of ignition interlock devices, preventing drunk drivers from starting their cars.

Different versions of the bill have passed the House and Senate, and now it’s up to a conference committee to reconcile the two different bills.

“We’re still struggling to get the strongest bill out, which is the Senate version. That is the bill that needs to pass,” says Rich Leotta, father of Noah Leotta.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill holds that any driver whose blood alcohol content is .08 or higher would immediately be required to have an ignition interlock device, even before trial.

“The earlier you get the drunk driver on the interlock the better for everybody,” says Del. Ben Kramer, (D-Montgomery County), the chief sponsor of Noah’s Law in the House.

Kramer backs the Senate version of the bill, which would also require drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test to immediately have an ignition interlock device placed on their vehicles.

Supporters of Noah’s Law say the measure would save lives.

“If we could get a strong interlock law we recognize it would stop these drunk drivers from being on the road,” says Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone, a traffic division director who was Noah Leotta’s supervisor.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has made clear his intention to sign the bill into law. It’s supporters are devoting their efforts to ensuring that the strongest measure emerges from the conference committee, which is expected to meet on Monday.

“When an interlock gets put on somebody’s car, from now on it will be Noah Leotta still on patrol,” says Rich Leotta.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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