ANNAPOLIS — Expanding mandatory ignition interlocks to all drunken driving offenders in Maryland was the message of state delegates and representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving at a news conference on Wednesday in Annapolis.
The organization released a self-conducted, state-by-state nationwide report that said ignition interlocks have stopped more than 1.77 million drunken drivers across the country from starting their cars since laws involving ignition interlock laws were first passed in 1999.
“Our best defense against the decision to drink and drive is to take the decision out of the hands of a drunk driver,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Colleen Sheehey-Church said.
The standard for drunken driving in Maryland is .08 percent blood alcohol content, and an ignition interlock in Maryland is required for first time offenders who have a .15 percent blood alcohol level. “Noah’s Law” would require interlocks at a .08 percent blood alcohol level.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the report was dedicated to Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed last December in Bethesda, by a driver who police say is suspected of driving drunk, while working on an assignment for the police department’s Holiday Alcohol Task Force.
Leotta’s parents, Rich Leotta and Marcia Goldman, were at the news conference and still visibly shaken from the loss of their son.
“My dreams are gone, I can’t get him back…I don’t want my son forgotten,” Rich Leotta said.
The organization’s goal is to pass an ignition interlock law for all offenders in every state. Twenty-five states have passed all-offender laws, while the rest of the states, including Maryland, have not, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Delegate Ben Kramer, D-Montgomery, and Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, are chief sponsors of the bill.
“This is the only piece of legislation that we can say for a fact will save lives,” Kramer said.
Raskin agreed: “It lets you take your car to work, school, a pleasure vacation. But it doesn’t let you do it drunk.”