For the past decade there has been a growing movement to increase the penalties for individuals convicted of drinking and driving in Maryland. In December of 2015, this movement garnered significant momentum with the tragic death of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta. Officer Leotta was killed in the line of duty when he was struck by a drunk driver while conducting a traffic stop on another drunk driver.
In the weeks immediately following this tragic event, the Maryland Legislature passed and Governor Hogan is expected to sign what has been appropriately nicknamed “Noah’s Law.” The law would require any person convicted of drunk driving in Maryland to have an ignition interlock device installed in any motor vehicle they drive. These devices require the driver to blow into a machine attached to the vehicle to ensure that the driver has not consumed alcohol prior to allowing the vehicle to be started. If the device, which is extremely sensitive and has been known to detect alcohol residue from recently used mouthwash, detects even the faintest sign of alcohol consumption the vehicle can not be started.
While these devices are certainly not new in Maryland, the Noah’s law, which will likely go into effect in the coming weeks, will significantly increase their usage and hopefully reduce drunk driving and related accidents and injuries in the future.
Unfortunately even this significant enhancement isn’t going to eliminate drunk driving accidents. But it is a step in the right direction. With the increased technology it is only a matter of time before every vehicle coming off the production line is equipped with these devices.