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What is Noah's Law?

In 2016, the Maryland Senate passed the state’s Drunk Driving Reduction Act, also known as “Noah’s Law.” The law, which took effect on October 1, 2016, memorializes Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta who, while working on holiday alcohol enforcement duty in December 2015, was struck and killed by a drunk driver.According to news reports, the driver had previously been arrested for drunk driving, twice. The law enacted in Officer Leotta’s memory requires the installation of ignition interlock systems in automobiles of drivers convicted of drunk driving offenses.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Generally, an ignition interlock device prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The device works by connecting a breath analyzer to a motor vehicle’s ignition system. The breath analyzer measures breath alcohol concentration. Before driving the vehicle, the driver of a car equipped with an interlock ignition device must activate the device by blowing into its mouthpiece. The device detects breath alcohol, and the vehicle will not start if alcohol is above the limit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, installed interlock devices reduce drunk driving repeat offenses by about 70%.

Who is Required to Have an Ignition Interlock Device?

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), drivers who have been convicted of the following offenses must use ignition interlock devices:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while impaired (DWI) while transporting a minor under the age of 16
  • Driving while intoxicated with an initial breathalyzer test refusal
  • Homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI

Also, as of October 1, 2019, according to the, newly-installed ignition interlock devices will be equipped with cameras. The cameras will be used to take still images of the person taking the breath test, and will not make sound or video recordings. The purpose of the still images is to allow the MDOT MVA to confirm the identity of the individuals who are providing breath tests for the interlock ignition devices so that attempts to circumvent the devices will be hampered.

What is the Noah’s Law Loophole?

There is some concern among its advocates that Noah’s Law may not be serving its intended purpose, or at least not serving this purpose to its full potential. According to news reports, the law contains a loophole that allows some drivers to avoid its penalty provisions. This is because although the law was initially designed to apply to individuals arrested for certain drunk driving offenses, the law, as enacted, requires that individuals be convicted in order to be subject to the law’s requirements. After an arrest, Probation Without Judgment may be available to drivers who admit guilt to avoid conviction under particular circumstances. Probation Without Judgment, or PBJ, is not a conviction. According to news reports, legislation is being advanced to close this loophole, to also require ignition interlock devices for drivers who obtain PBJ decisions.

If you would like to learn more about the future of ignition interlock device requirements in Maryland, contact an experienced criminal law firm. The Law Office of Robert R. Castro can help you understand your rights and responsibilities in the event of a DUI/DWI concern.

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