Six-Year Battle Results In Maryland Crack Down On Drunk Driving

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Maryland legislators passed a law Monday night requiring anyone in the state convicted of drunk driving to clear a breathalyzer test before they can start their vehicle.

Noah’s Law cleared the general assembly Monday night after a long fought effort to find language both houses of the governing body could agree on. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is a strong supporter of the bill, which will require convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices in their cars.

The devices prevent the car from starting if the driver does not pass a breathalyzer test.

Proponents of drunk driving reform in Maryland have long fought for stricter rules to deter driving under the influence. The death of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta in 2015 at the hands of a drunk driver ignited a broader movement to pass the law, named in honor of the slain officer, reports WUSA9

“This legislation, for 6 years has been introduced and has failed,” Montgomery County Chief of Police Thomas Manger told WUSA9. “It’s Noah’s sacrifice that made this happen. Officer Noah Leotta will be saving lives for the next 100 years.”

Current Maryland law only requires drivers who were convicted of being excessively drunk or repeat offenders to have the ignition interlock breathalyzers in their vehicles. Under Noah’s Law anyone convicted of driving under the influence must install the device. Drivers will have to pass a breathalyzer test before their car can start, reports NBC Washington.

Proponents of stricter deterrents say this law will save countless lives by keeping dangerous drivers off Maryland roads. Governor Hogan has spoken regularly on the topic, saying Maryland must act to curb drunk driving deaths in the state.

“We’ve got a problem with drunken drivers, and we’re repeatedly having issues,” Hogan told NBC Washington. “I think this is something that’s really going to help. It’s something there is almost unanimous support for on both sides of the aisle.”

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