News

Actions

Noah's Law creates stiffer penalties for drunk drivers

CORP-Digital-Default-Image-1280x720-WMAR.png
Posted at 3:20 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 19:23:55-04

A DUI law that creates tougher penalties went into effect Saturday morning at midnight, something fallen officer Noah Leotta's family fought for, for almost a year.

"For me, the sacrifice was way too great. When I look at that picture… it's hard.. I see the blue eyes… I see his smile. It's hard," Father Rich Leotta said, tearful.

Noah was a 24-year-old Montgomery County Police Officer and was working on a DUI task force, a passion of his.

Rich said Noah often shared his frustration with the drunk driving problem, saying laws and judges kept him from helping solve this issue and save lives.

"He cared about others more than himself," Rich described his son as kind, selfless and morally bound. He said Noah would often tell his parents growing up what was right versus what was wrong.

Then, one night, in December of 2015, Noah was on patrol, pulled over a suspected drunk driver, and while he wasn't looking, he was hit by another drunk driver.

"This person was probably going to hit someone that night, he was three times the legal limit, he had been drinking all night long. He had had Xanax, he had pot," Rich said Noah's sacrifice would not be in vain.

Noah's parents had just retired, Rich said they felt so blessed with two children doing well on their own, and finally able to take a breath. This tragedy turned their world upside-down.
 
Rich and a few close family members had to leave the country, too distraught by this devastating blow. He said they cried on the beach, where no one knew them. Collected themselves and created a plan, then came back to Annapolis where they went to work.
 
Noah's law was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on May 19, 2016. It quadruples the amount of time a breathalyzer must be in the car of a person guilty of DUI and lowers the threshold to put in the device by half.
 
First Offense:
 
BAC 0.08-0.14 = 180 days with Ignition Interlock 
BAC 0.15+ = 180 days with Ignition Interlock
 
Test Refusal = 270 days with Ignition Interlock
 
Second Offense or higher:
 
BAC 0.08-0.14 = 180 days with Ignition Interlock
BAC0.15+ = 270 days with Ignition Interlock
 
Test Refusal = 2 years
 
"This can help them face their problem and maybe help them correct their other problems they're having. they're not going to jail, they can live a normal life," Rich said.
 
If you have the breathalyzer in your car, you cannot turn on the engine without blowing into the device to test your blood alcohol concentration. Under this law, the driver must register under a 0.025 to turn on their car. This leaves room for error with things like mouthwash.