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House passes ignition interlock expansion

Rachel Baye

The House of Delegates voted unanimously Tuesday to expand the required use of ignition interlock devices to anyone convicted of drunken driving. 

The bill is nicknamed “Noah’s Law,” for Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunken driver in December.

Del. Ben Kramer, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the bill, said the measure would prevent similar deaths in the future by requiring a self-administered breathalyzer before anyone convicted of driving under the influence can start a car.

"The ignition interlock device is the only thing that actually modifies the behavior of drunk drivers when it's been put on their car for at least six months," Kramer said. "With passage of this bill, we will definitely be saving lives.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that similar requirements in 25 other states have reduced drunk driving-related deaths by 30 percent or more.

The bill also creates a new choice for people who refuse breathalyzer tests when they are pulled over for suspected drunken driving a choice. They can install an ignition interlock device or face a 270-day suspension of their driver's license. Current law gives them an automatic 120-day license suspension.