Maryland governor Larry Hogan on Thursday signed Noah’s Law. This law’s passing will expand the use of ignition interlock devices for those with a history of DUI convictions.
The bill’s namesake was Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County officer. Leotta was killed by a drunk driver while on DUI patrol. The law requires convicted drunken drivers to pass a Breathalyzer test in order to start their car, via an ignition interlock device.
Before the law was passed, only repeat DUI convictions and “excessively drunk” offenders had to use ignition interlock devices.
Tougher DUI Laws Spreading beyond Maryland
This type of law is now catching on in other states.
Data collected by AAA shows that stronger laws to prevent drunk driving are well-supported by public attitudes. In a 2014 AAA poll that measured the traffic safety culture of Americans, AAA found that almost 80% of respondents “strongly supported requiring drivers who have been convicted of DWI at least once to use equipment that tests them for alcohol, i.e. an ignition interlock device”.
The survey also reported that 66% felt that impaired driving was a “serious threat to their personal safety.”
Annie’s Law, approved by Ohio state legislators last week, is similar to Noah’s Law. If passed by the state Senate and Governor John Kasich, the bill would require convicted drunken drivers to pass a Breathalyzer before starting their cars. It also requires the placement of a camera that records who is using the Breathalyzer as well as a GPS tracking system so the movements of the car can be monitored.
Spurred to action by tragedy
When Noah’s Law passed, according to the Washington Post, hundreds of people, including police officers, were in attendance. Some of these were the people who had advocated for the law’s passage after Leotta’s death.
On the previous day, the person who caused the accident that led to Leotta’s death had pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.
Leotta’s father told the Washington Post, “It’s a special day, a celebration of life, of Noah’s life, and a celebration of saving lives”.
As you can infer from how it’s named, the Ohio Law was also initiated and supported by people affected by the death of a victim killed in a drunk-driving crash.
Cincinnati native Annie Rooney was on her bike when she was killed by a drunk driver three summers ago. The driver of the car that crashed into Rooney had a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit. She had previously been arrested three times for drunken driving.
Rooney’s brother Walt told Cincinnati news channel WLWT that he could never forget the accident. He lamented, “This person was driving 80 miles an hour with no lights at dusk. There are no skid marks after she veered into my sister’s lane”.
Rooney’s family worked hard to get the bill passed, he said.