MARYLAND (FOX 5 DC) - The father of a Montgomery County police officer who was killed by a drunk driver tells FOX 5 there is a major problem with the law that bear's his son's name – Noah's Law.
Noah Leotta died in 2015 while conducting a drunk driving stop. His father, Rich Leotta, pushed for passage of Noah's Law in 2016, which requires breathalyzer ignition locks for anyone convicted of drunken driving.
However, Leotta says in 2022, the law has a big loophole that needs closing: if a first-time offender charged with DUI agrees to "probation before judgment," Maryland judges are not required to install an interlock device on the person's car.
Leotta says if the interlocks don't get put on offenders' cars, Noah's Law can't work.
"I went to court before COVID to find out if this is really happening, and I did this for two years, and actually I did find that 60% of the time when a person got a "PBJ," an interlock was not ordered by a judge," he says.
A Maryland House committee holds hearings on the bill to close the loophole this week. Leotta is testifying in support, along with Chris Swonger, President of the Distilled Spirits Council.
In 2020, 14,000 people were arrested in Maryland for DUI, but Swonger says the loophole means too many not getting an interlock put on their car.
"It’s been frustrating because we haven’t been able to get it across the finish line, and we’re really calling out legislators to please help us fix this loophole in Noah’s Law and honor Noah, the family and all drunk driving victims. This will save lives," says Swonger.
After the Maryland House hears the bill this week, Maryland's Senate is set to take it up next week.
The drunk driver who was convicted in Officer Leotta's death, Luis Gustavo Reluzco, was released from prison in May 2021 for "good behavior" after serving only half of his 10-year sentence.