Noah’s Law Applies if You Refuse to Take a Breath TestNoah’s Law is a Maryland drunk driving law that requires that anyone who is convicted of certain alcohol-related driving offenses must install and use an ignition interlock device system (IID). The law, formally titled “The Drunk Driving Reduction Act Of 2016,” is named after Noah Leotta, a 24-year-old police officer, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver at a sobriety checkpoint.

The requirement of Noah’s Law to install and use an IID applies to anyone who is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). The law is applied as follows.

  • If the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher as a result of a breath test, the IID must be used for six months. Otherwise, the driver’s Maryland license will be suspended for six months.
  • If the driver refuses to submit to a breath test, the driver will have to use the interlock ignition device for nine months or face a nine-month suspension of driving privileges.

According to the Officer Noah Leotta Foundation, Maryland’s rate of IID installations is sixth in the United States and ninth in the country in terms of usage. The passage of Noah’s Law is expected to add several thousand drunk drivers to Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program.

Noah’s Law took effect on October 16, 2016. It was enacted in response to the death of Officer Leotta, who was killed in December 2015 after pulling over a suspected drunk driver during the holiday season.

The requirements of Noah’s Law

In addition to the IID requirement discussed above, Noah’s Law provides the following changes from prior law.

  • Drivers who have a BAC of .08 to .14. Under prior law, the driver’s license was suspended as follows:
    • First offense. 45 days for a first offense. The suspension period after Noah’s law for a first offense is 180 days.
    • Second and subsequent offense. 90 days for a second or subsequent offense. Noah’s law increased that suspension period to 180 days.
  • Drivers who have a BAC of .15 or higher. The suspension periods increase as follows:
    • First offense. 90 days for a first offense. After the enactment of Noah’s Law, the suspension period increased to 180 days.
    • Second offense. 180 days for a first offense. After the enactment of Noah’s Law, the suspension period increased to 270 days.
  • Drivers who refuse to take a breath test.
    • First offense. Prior to Noah’s Law, the suspension period was 120 days. The suspension period increased to 270 days after Noah’s Law was passed.
    • Second and subsequent offenses. The suspension term increased to two years after Noah’s Law was passed from the one-year period prior.

Noah’s Law requires that the use of an ignition interlock device is mandatory (though the length of the mandate differs) for any driver who:

  • Is convicted of a DUI
  • Is convicted of a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) if the vehicle had a passenger who was under 16
  • Refused to take a breathalyzer test

If a driver is convicted of homicide or life-threatening injury by a motor vehicle while DUI or DWI, drivers who have a chemical test with a BAC of .08 to .14 result can “opt-in to interlock for 180 days” instead of having their license suspended.

Drivers will not be released from the IID program unless they successfully complete the program and don’t have any violations during the last three months of the program.

Noah’s Law continues enhanced penalties for drivers who have prior alcohol-related incidents or who are under 21.

Tips to avoid driving under the influence or while intoxicated

Noah’s Foundation recommends that drivers:

  • Make a plan for alternate safe transportation before drinking and driving, such as designating a sober driver or using public transportation.
  • Use Maryland’s END-DUI app, which is an educational tool that helps drivers find alternate transportation and estimate their BAC based on the number of drinks they’ve had.
  • Call 911 if you see a drunk driver on the road.
  • Take the keys away from anyone you suspect may drive after they’ve been drinking. Help them find alternate transportation.

How does an IID work?

An ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer test that is installed on your vehicle. The device is normally installed by an authorized mechanic, normally at the driver’s expense. The driver is required to blow into the device. The device then measures the driver’s BAC. If the BAC is more than a specific preset amount (such as .08), then the car won’t start. An IID is connected to the car’s ignition system.

The driver will also be required to blow into the IID device at random intervals while the car is in operation to check that the driver isn’t drinking while he/she drives. This rolling test is also used to ensure that a sober driver doesn’t blow into the device to start the car so that a drunk driver can operate the car. If the driver’s BAC is too high, then the IID will start an alarm system. Typically, the horn will honk and the cars’ lights will flash – making continued driving unsafe. The driver will need to get off the road and stop driving for the alarm to end.

The IID, once the car is started, does not automatically turn off since that could create an emergency driving condition for the driver and any other cars or people on the road.

If you were charged with a DUI, a DWI, or refused to submit to a breath test, our seasoned DUI and DWI lawyer will work to obtain a dismissal, acquittal, or plea bargain of the charges. We represent defendants at both the criminal trial and the MVA hearing. We’ll explain your IID requirements. To fight any drunk driving charges or consequences, call Carey Law Office today. We have locations in Bowie, Crofton, Dunkirk, and Owings. Please call us or contact us now to schedule a consultation.