MD Prosecutor: Use Ignition Interlocks More!

prosecutor says not enough ignition interlocks in usePassing Noah’s Law in Maryland took a  great deal of effort, but it’s on the books, and now all drunk driving offenders in the state are required to install ignition interlocks, devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The law is named after Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County police officer who was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver. Outrage at his fate sparked a movement to get a strong ignition interlock law passed, and the movement succeeded.

That’s as it should be. But Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy wants judges and prosecutors to order the devices for “related criminal matters” – other crimes in which alcohol is involved. In a recent interview McCarthy gave domestic violence as an example where the interlock could help in the battle against alcohol addiction.

Too Many Exceptions to Interlock Requirement

According to McCarthy, too many DUI offenders manage to evade having ignition interlocks installed even after the passage of Noah’s Law. The reason is that Maryland allows courts to order probation for a defendant without an actual judgment. The idea is to help the offender reform without the burden of a police record.

The problem is that many drunk driving offenders will be repeat offenders, and without ignition interlocks, there is nothing keeping them from getting back behind the wheel after drinking. Laws like Noah’s Law only work when they are put into practice. A glaring exception like Probation Before Judgment only serves to undermine the intention of the law, and the hard work of the legislators and citizens who worked for the law.

It’s too early to tell whether ignition interlocks will be of use for crimes other than drunk driving. But we know that they are very useful in stopping drunk drivers from reoffending. Legal devices which help drunk drivers evade ignition interlocks do no favors for anyone – they put the public at risk, and make it harder for problem drinkers to confront the issues that brought them to court.

State’s Attorney John McCarthy is right. It’s time to give Noah’s Law a chance to do its work and take dangerously impaired drivers off the road.