Maryland Governor: Take Anti-Drunk Driving Efforts Beyond Noah’s Law
Maryland was an important battleground in the fight against drunk driving last year. In May Governor Larry Hogan signed Noah’s Law, which requires all offenders who are convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The law was named after Officer Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County police officer who was killed by a drunk driver in the line of duty.
The law is important because requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders has been shown to be effective in reducing drunk driving recidivism.
Now Governor Hogan wants to take the effort a step further with the 2017 Justice for Victims Initiative. A sweeping set of measures designed to support victims of homelessness, sexual predators, and sex trafficking, the initiative also includes a laws involving driving under the influence.
Coming Down Harder on Third Offenders
The Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act of 2017 would make a third DUI a felony. Any drunk driving causing death or life-threatening injury on a second or subsequent offense would also be guilty of a felony. As such, the prison sentences would be increased from present levels.
Many states have been increasing drunk driving penalties of late, as legislators find themselves under pressure from constituents who are increasingly impatient with the toll that drunk driving has been taking on the nation’s roads.
Penalties are part of the answer. Alternatives to driving are also important, as well as enough social pressure to use those alternatives. That’s where public awareness and education come in. But there will always be a need to deal with repeat offenders, and Governor Hogan is right to keep up the pressure. We hope his Justice for Victims Initiative passes and keeps the battle for a safer Maryland in the forefront.