In December of 2015, Noah Leotta, a police officer, was killed by a driver under the influence while he was stopping another vehicle.
In response to the tragic accident, the Maryland legislature enacted the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2015, named ‘Noah’s Law.’ The new law expanded the requirement of interlock ignition devices on vehicles when a driver has been convicted of a DUI. Now, Noah’s family is advocating for more execution of the law, hoping to pressure judges into enforcing it more than they are now.
The advocacy group is calling themselves Noah’s on Patrol. It is a small group of people headed by Noah’s father, Rich Leotta. Noah’s on Patrol is starting their movement in Montgomery County, where Noah was working at the time of his death.
Rich Leotta says that in cases of probation before judgement (PBJ), those facing DUI charges are not being required to have an interlock device installed in their vehicle. Instead he states, these individuals are simply getting a slap on the wrist, and that is not what Noah’s Law was intended to be. He believes this needs to change.
To combat the problem he sees, Leotta has started sitting in courtrooms where DUI cases are being heard. His hope in doing this is that judges will know they are being watched by those expecting Noah’s Law to be enforced.
“There really is no problem with the way the judges are handling these PBJ cases,” says Oleg Fastovsky of Price Benowitz, LLP. “Noah’s Law states that those convicted of a DUI must have the device installed in their vehicles. However, a PBJ means there has been no conviction, a person has not been found guilty of the crime. So there is no contradiction of Noah’s Law in these cases.”
Often when many of these convicted individuals show up in court, they already have the device installed on their vehicle, as it is sometimes required following an arrest. The judge would be provided with that information before the hearing. This means that there would be no reason to mention the requirement as part of someone’s probationary sentence.