Driving after having a few alcoholic drinks is never a good idea, and the penalties once caught will soon be more strict.
The Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate both unanimously passed Noah’s Law—a bill that would require drivers who are caught with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. The current law places mandatory interlock devices in drivers’ vehicles that test a BAC of 0.15 or higher.
The new measure was named in honor of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta who sustained mortal injuries Dec. 3 after being hit by an alleged drunk driver while he was participating in a task force aimed at getting impaired drivers off the road. The 24-year-old died a week later from his injuries.
The driver, Luis Gustavo Reluzco, 47, of Olney had a BAC of .22. He has been indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury on the charges of manslaughter by motor vehicle and failure to avoid an emergency vehicle. The maximum prison sentence in the case is 10 years.
Since Leotta’s death, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger and the officer’s family members have been heavily pushing for tougher drunk driving restrictions. The county’s top officer has said the state has some of the weakest penalties for drunk drivers in the nation.
“Montgomery County has lost a great cop,” Manger said, “exactly the kind of police officer that you want patrolling your streets. …It was a preventable, unnecessary loss.”
The bill went through multiple changes by the House Judiciary Committee before coming mainly back to its original form before the vote in the House. The Senate bill does differ slightly from the House measure but lawmakers will work those out in a committee.
Citizens Invited to Learn About Law Enforcement
Want to have a better understanding of a police officer’s job? Apply to be a part of Montgomery County Police’s Citizen Academy.
Held three times a year, the academy will start on Sept. 6 and run every Tuesday evening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. for 15 consecutive weeks. The academy is limited to 40 persons and applications are taken on a first come, first serve basis. To graduate, participants must attend at least 12 out of the 15 sessions. There is no charge for the academy.
Participants will learn about many different facets of the department, including collision reconstruction, crime lab, search and seizure laws, drug investigations, Maryland traffic laws and firearm safety. For more information, call 240.773.6900.