Maryland lawmakers hold hearing to close Noah’s Law drunk driving loophole

Lawmakers in Maryland are holding a hearing Wednesday to close a loophole in the state’s drunk driving law that bears the name of a Montgomery County police officer who was killed by an intoxicated driver.

The Drunk Driving Reduction Act Of 2016, also known as ‘Noah’s Law,’ was named after Officer Noah Leotta who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while assigned to a holiday alcohol task force fighting impaired driving in 2015. The bill was designed to put breathalyzer locks on the cars of people who have driven drunk.

READ MORE: Maryland drunk driving law has loophole that needs to be closed, advocates say

Advocates, however, say the law is deeply flawed. The law originally said people "arrested" for drunk driving must use an ignition breathalyzer interlock. But that was later changed to "convicted" of drunk driving.

The loophole means even if someone pleads guilty to drunk driving, a judge can grant "probation before conviction" and no interlock is required.

FOX 5’s Stephanie Ramirez says that Rich Leotta, Noah’s father, told a colleague he attended 328 Montgomery County drunk driving hearings where 217 received probation before judgement – meaning an ignition lock was not required in those cases.

"48% of the time that a person gets probation before judgement they get the catch and release. No interlock. Nothing. Just a few little – don’t do this, don’t do that, couple little things - but no interlock. Catch and release," Leotta said at a press conference in 2019.

Noah’s father, lawmakers, and other advocates will be in Annapolis for the House Judiciary Committee hearing.