Noah’s Law gets amended: has it been watered down?

WASHINGTON– A bill that would require all drivers found guilty of driving drunk to have an interlock device installed in their cars has gained traction in Annapolis. Kurt Erickson, the president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) says that that movement is in itself a milestone.

“We’ve never had it come out of Maryland’s house because it’s never gotten out of committee,” Erickson says.

Erickson says similar bills have been proposed for the past seven years and each year those bills died in committee—but Noah’s Law, named after Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County police officer who died in December after being hit by a suspected drunk driver—had a critical mass of support.

The bill that was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday night has been tagged with 10 amendments, so has it been watered down? Erickson says it needs some time to be analyzed and supporters are currently poring over the new language proposed by lawmakers, but he’s optimistic.

In the past, lawmakers have resisted putting interlock devices in the cars of anyone but the ‘superdrunk”: those blowing twice the legal limit of .08.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and WRAP have been pushing for years to get interlocks required for anyone found driving drunk, starting with that .08 threshold. Erikson says the reason this is important is because these devices really work.

Case in point, says Erickson: This week, a Maryland woman on parole for vehicular manslaughter in a 2009 case that killed two men was sent back to prison for violating her probation. She had an interlock device that recorded three incidents in which she tried to get behind the wheel after drinking. In one case, she blew twice the legal limit.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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