Potomac Column: Manger Urges Support of Noah’s Law

Potomac Column: Manger Urges Support of Noah’s Law

Commentary–DUI Laws

On the day that Montgomery County Officer Noah Leotta died, Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger spoke about Leotta’s sacrifice. Manger talked about the driver who was under the influence of alcohol when he killed Leotta — the driver who had previously been arrested three times for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses.

In honoring Leotta’s sacrifice and in working to prevent impaired-driving tragedies in the future, Manger is collaborating with various people and agencies to include the following:

  • Several legislators in Annapolis to strengthen the laws and penalties for drunk and impaired driving.

  • The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office:

  • To ensure that prosecutors are in agreement that strong prosecutions are needed, especially for repeat DUI offenders.

  • On the development of a Court Watch program that involves volunteers who would observe court cases involving repeat DUI offenders and monitor judges’ sentencing decisions.

  • The Department of Corrections to ensure jail time is given to DUI offenders and that home detention is not an option.

Manger is urging community members and state-wide law enforcement personnel to support his efforts to make changes to the laws that pertain to driving while impaired: “I believe these changes are important and will make travel safer for everyone on Maryland roadways; these changes will save lives. I am asking that residents contact their delegates and senators and urge them to vote ‘Yes’ on the following bills:”

  • Noah’s Law – Mandatory Interlock for all Persons Convicted of Driving While Under the Influence (DUI)

Del. Benjamin Kramer and Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County have introduced legislation that will require interlock devices to be used by all drivers convicted of impaired driving. Presently under Maryland law, only persons who are convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or more (.08 is the legal limit in Maryland) and repeat offenders are assigned interlocks by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

  • Enhanced Penalties for Offenses of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle and Homicide by Motor Vehicle while DUI

Manger is also asking the legislature to increase the penalties for anyone convicted of driving while impaired that results in a death of another person. Currently, the maximum penalty that a person faces for causing the death of another while operating a motor vehicle is 10 years in jail. In Maryland, the maximum penalty for homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence is 5 years and is one of the lowest penalties in the nation. This legislation is a top priority for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and has been identified as important legislation by Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety.

  • Enhanced Penalties for Adults Who Host Underage Drinking Parties –Criminal Law – Providing Alcohol to Underage Drinkers

Del. David Fraser-Hildago has drafted legislation that adds a penalty of one-year maximum in jail and increases the already existing maximum fine amount from $2,500 to $5,000 for a first offense for providing alcohol to those who are underage. For a subsequent offense, the legislation would increase the existing maximum fine from $5,000 to $7,500 and add a penalty of a maximum of two years in jail.

  • Civil Action – Wrongful Selling or Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages (Dram Shop Laws)

Del. Kathleen Dumais has drafted legislation that would allow a victim’s family to seek civil action against an establishment and/or an individual who wrongfully sells or furnishes alcohol to a person. This law exists in several other states but does not exist in Maryland.

  • Additional Traffic-Related Laws Related to DUI that the Department Supports

Fraser-Hidalgo proposes enhancing the Negligent Driving law. Currently, a person who drives negligently and causes the death of another is issued a pre-payable traffic citation for negligent driving; the person never has to appear in court. This new legislation requires that a person who drives negligently and causes the death of another person to appear in court.