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Maryland lawmakers seek to close Noah's Law loophole

Many of our readers have heard of Noah's Law. It was implemented in 2016 to mandate that anyone convicted of DUI -- even for the first time -- be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle if they want their driver's license back. The law was named after a Montgomery County police officer killed the previous year by a drunk driver.

An IID connects to a vehicle's ignition. A driver must breathe into it before they can start the car. If the IID detects alcohol, the ignition won't work.

However, there is a loophole in Noah's Law that allows some people who are guilty of drunk driving to get out of the IID requirement. If a person pleads guilty to DUI and receives something called probation before judgment (PBJ), they can opt out of having an IID.

The father of the law's namesake, Rich Leotta, is vehemently against judges issuing PBJs in DUI cases. He says that "they're not protecting the community. I can tell you firsthand. I've been in the courtroom -- I see what's going on." Leotta says, "By putting that interlock on, we're not only saving the community, we're saving the drunken driver."

Now, two state lawmakers are introducing legislation to close that loophole in Noah's Law and require that people have an IID in order to get a PBJ.

The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Maryland and the national president of MADD have both spoken out in favor of the legislation. One of the lawmakers behind it, State Sen. William C. Smith of Montgomery County, says, "Interlocks work, and closing this critical loophole will make our roads safer here in Maryland and will save lives."

It's understandable that a person facing a DUI charge would try to avoid having to get an IID. They may find the idea of blowing into it in front of friends and others embarrassing. They may not want to deal with the fees involved.

However, an IID could prevent a tragedy -- or at least keep you from getting another DUI. You must use it correctly, though, and not try to "cheat." That will only get you in more trouble. If you're facing the possibility of an IID, it's wise to find out more about them from your attorney.

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