Maryland has incurred a great deal of legislation pertaining to DUI law. Although Maryland has a very reliable method of public transportation conveniently connected to Washington D.C.’s metro, many citizens of the state still drive. As a result of this, Maryland has had several incidences of DUI’s that they have driven legislators to create new laws. There have been several attempts by residents of the state of Maryland to implement changes in the form of drunk driving legislation; however, they have previously been unsuccessful. It was not until recently that the family of Noah Leotta took a stand and made sure that legislation protecting against drunk driving actually was passed. The revolutionary legislation for the state of Maryland designed to combat drunk driving has been named “Noah’s Law” out of respect for the Leotta’s son, a Maryland police officer who tragically died at the hands of a drunk driver.
To give a background about “Noah’s Law,” Noah Leotta was a Montgomery County police officer who was hit by a drunk driver on Rockville Pike on December 3 and was taken off of life support a week later. As a result of this tragedy, Leotta’s parents decided to take legal action in order to prevent similar tragedies happening to other families. What Leotta’s parents proposed was a law that required all prior drunk driving offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed into their vehicle. An ignition interlock is essentially a Breathalyzer that prevents drunk drivers from starting their car unless they’re sober. The Leotta’s proposed this legislation to model other forms of legislation that have been passed in other states aimed at combating the large number of casualties that have resulted from drunk drivers nationwide.
What is fascinating about “Noah’s Law” is that it is actually not revolutionary in the trend of legislation against drunk driving. Statistics have shown that 1.7 million drunk drivers across the country have been prevented from driving with the ignition interlock technology, which is an enormous asset that protects the population from unjust deaths. To date, twenty-five states have enacted similar legislation similar to “Noah’s Law” and have seen great results from implementing such legislation. The question remains as to how this legislation impacts those who already have DUI’s?
This proposed law was revolutionary in the aspect of prior DUI law in the state of Maryland because it is more invasive than most on prior offenders. Additionally, this law has spiked a great deal of legal debate pertaining to whether it is constitutional to allow these mandated Breathalyzer tests for DUI offenses that are not recent offenses, for example, because it blurs the line of keeping the DUI on one’s record or allowing them a second chance in society.
What is unique about “Noah’s Law” is that it calls for any DUI offenders who register blood alcohol levels that are 0.15 percent or more to use a Breathalyzer before they can turn on the ignition on their car. The nuance that exists in “Noah’s Law” is that those who have lower blood alcohol rates, such as, 0.08 or below, do not have to use the Breathalyzer unless a court orders them to do so.
Even though “Noah’s Law” is an active combative strategy to change the state of Maryland’s weak drunk driving legislation, there is still debate in the community. That being said, since the legislation has been put in place in other states, there has been a 60% reduction in repeat drunk driving offenses. Statistics like the one previously mentioned could provide great protection to Maryland citizens without the need to go to the extreme of reenacting Prohibition once more. Until the population can manage the threat of the car with alcohol, it is necessary to protect those innocents who are struck by these irresponsible individuals.
The reality when it comes to drunk driving is that it is a unique problem that is going to need drastic measures to prevent it. Given the nature of the victims of these crimes who are not at fault and going about their daily lives, drunk driving has to be taken seriously. Those who have prior records that have a high enough blood alcohol level to be a danger to society need to be controlled by restrictive laws. Laws such as “Noah’s Law” will end up making a great difference in the community in the state of Maryland. The main takeaway from this legislation is that the law will protect accidents from happening towards upstanding citizens such as Noah Leotta who did not deserve the tragedy that happened to them as a result of drunk driving.