Underage Drinking So Intense, The Air At The Party Registered On Breathalyzer

underage drinkingIt’s a forgone conclusion that university parties will be host to underage drinking. What you’d hope is that the underage drinking wouldn’t be so out of control that the air in the room itself could register on a breathalyzer device.

It’s hard to believe but it’s true: a party held off-campus at American University in Bethesda, Maryland was packed to the rafters with underage drinkers. They were attending what’s known as “Tequila Tuesday,” and the alcohol was flowing steadily.

When police arrived, they found people locked in the bathroom and others jumping out of the second story window. They charged the six people hosting the party, and between the six of them they received 126 counts of providing alcohol to minors.

That’s bad enough, but the underage drinking isn’t the most shocking thing about this party; it’s the space it was hosted in. When police pulled out the breathalyzer to test the occupants in the house, the air in the house registered a .01.

Having a .01 breathalyzer reading isn’t overly significant if you’re a person blowing into the breathalyzer, but the air in the house would have to be overloaded with alcohol fumes in order to register on the device.

There would be two major concerns for the police who responded to the call about the party: one, they would be worried about underage drinking and alcohol poisoning, and two, they’d be on the lookout for underage drinking drivers.

The State of Maryland has a zero-tolerance law for drunk drivers under the age of 21, and that means if they are caught driving with even a .01 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), they could have their driver’s license suspended.

This is one party that will definitely go down in Maryland record books, and it’s safe to say both police and university officials won’t want a repeat of it anytime soon.

Maryland Ignition Interlock Law Is Already One Year Old

Maryland ignition interlock law,It’s never easy for a state to change its drunk driving laws or drunk driving penalties, and Maryland is the perfect example of how difficult it can be. There was a long battle fought to bring the Maryland ignition interlock proposal from a new bill to a drunk driving law signed by the Governor.

Just one year ago the Maryland ignition interlock law, also known as Noah’s Law, become official in the state. Named for Officer Noah Leotta, the all offender law requires all drunk drivers, including first offenders, to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they own. It was named for Leotta after he was killed on the side of a highway by a drunk driver while working at a DUI checkpoint.

Now that Noah’s Law has been active for a year, there’s data to show how it is saving lives in Maryland. Thanks to the Maryland ignition interlock law, use of ignition interlock devices have gone up by 10 percent. For first time offenders that number is even higher: they’ve seen a 25 percent increase in first offenders using an interlock.

Ignition interlocks also stopped 2,000 people who were drunk and attempting to drive, so there’s no question that the devices are hard at work in Maryland. But just like any state with a new all offender law, Maryland is still experiencing its fair share of drunk drivers.

According a single arrest report printed in a local newspaper recently, police arrested 23 drunk drivers while out on patrol.  That’s a lot for a single time period. The good news is that Noah’s law means these drunk drivers will be prevented from driving thanks to an ignition interlock.

It’s a tragedy that Officer Leotta was struck and killed, and even more tragic that he was out stopping drunk drivers when the crash happened. But thanks to the Maryland ignition interlock law, his legacy will live on and lives will be saved in the state.

Here’s Why You Should Take Maryland Ignition Interlock Law Seriously

Maryland ignition interlock Maryland drunk driving offenders should take note: judges in your state take Maryland ignition interlock law very seriously, and you might want to think twice about violating the conditions of your ignition interlock program.

It’s a extreme example, but one that’s worth paying attention to. One Maryland woman killed two men in a drunk driving crash back in 2009, and she was sentenced to jail for her crime. She served four years and was released early with the condition she install and use an ignition interlock, she remain on probation, and she was not to drink alcohol.

Instead of sticking to the terms of her probation, she violated it by drinking alcohol. How did the judge know she did that? It was thanks to her ignition interlock. She blew into it and locked it 10 different times because she had alcohol on her breath.

In her defense, the woman claimed that it was Altoids that resulted in the ignition interlock failures. Fortunately, the judge didn’t buy that excuse. He called her a liar and sent her back to prison for 16 more years.

Clearly the Maryland ignition interlock law is working in the state. Also known as Noah’s Law, it was passed one year ago after Officer Noah Leotta’s family waged a long battle to bring it to Maryland. Noah’s Law requires that all drunk driving offenders — including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, use the device in any vehicle they drive.

If this offender would not have been required to install an ignition interlock as part of her probation, she could have drove drunk again and killed someone else in the process. Now she’ll be spending an additional 16 years in prison considering why she would make the choice to drive drunk again.

It might seem like it’s just you and your ignition interlock in the car and it won’t matter if you fail the breath test, but this case shows that violating your ignition interlock program is a serious offense. Nothing good can come of it if you do.

Maryland Drunk Driving Slows Thanks To Alcohol Tax Increase

Maryland drunk driving Could a tax on alcohol really have a big effect on Maryland drunk driving? If one study in Maryland is any indication, that hit to the pocket book is making people think twice about getting behind the wheel drunk.

The study as led by the University of Maryland and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It showed that the number of alcohol-related crashes where someone was killed or hurt dropped by six percent when Maryland raised it’s alcohol sales tax back in 2011. That’s the rate it dropped for drunk drivers in all age groups, but the research actually showed that there was an even larger drop in Maryland drunk driving for young drivers.

Young drivers age 15 to 34 saw a twelve percent drop in alcohol-related crashes. On the flip side, older drivers between the ages of 35-54 saw no change and drivers over 55 saw a five percent increase after the tax was implemented. It could be that this demographic is not as worried about a jump from a six percent tax to a nine percent tax.

Researchers don’t think they would have seen such a significant drop in alcohol related crashes had the tax not been implemented, but there’s no evidence yet that you could continue to raise the alcohol tax and see another drop. That might be why anti-drunk driving groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are sticking with ignition interlocks to fight Maryland drunk driving and not strict just relying on policy changes like alcohol tax increases.

MADD doesn’t promote alcohol abstinence per se, unless you have plans on getting behind the wheel of a car. To stop Maryland drunk driving and drunk drivers in all states, MADD believes passing an all offender ignition interlock law is the most crucial law change a state can make.  Thankfully Maryland has already made that law happen, and they’re stopping drunk drivers because of it.

To Fight Drunk Drivers, Maryland Rolls Out A Mobile Breathalyzer Truck

breathalyzer truckAny police officer will tell you that it takes a long time to process a drunk driver. The timer starts ticking from the moment an offender rolls down the window and starts answering questions or when the police pull up after a crash.

Once the officer has reason to suspect someone of drunk driving, they’ll be asked to perform a field sobriety test. If they fail that they may be required to go back to the police station and submit to a breathalyzer test, and that’s where a significant amount of police time and resources is spent.

Instead of bringing a drunk driver back to the police station, Maryland police have a new tool at their disposal that will process a drunk driver right at the stop: a mobile breath alcohol testing truck. It’s the first time police officers in Maryland has had technology like this at their disposal.

The mobile breathalyzer testing truck will have everything police need to test drunk drivers, and if someone needs to be picked up because they’re too drunk to drive, police will keep them right in the truck until a sober driver arrives.

The truck will speed up the process of arresting drunk drivers, but it also serves another purpose: protecting police officers. While out on the roads Maryland police officers have been hit by drivers thirty eight times this year, with Officer Noah Leotta’s hit at a drunk driving checkpoint in 2015 being the most notable. That crash spurred lawmakers to pass Maryland’s all offender ignition interlock law, requiring all drunk drivers in Maryland to install an interlock upon conviction.

With the interlock law on the books, a mobile breathalyzer truck in action, and a focus on protecting police officers in the line of duty, Maryland police are more equipped than ever to handle drunk drivers and stay safe while doing so. Let’s hope 2017 is the start of a true decrease in drunk driving in Maryland.

Noah Leotta’s Face Will Grace Maryland Ignition Interlocks

Maryland ignition interlocks

Image from Wtop.com

When Maryland passed Noah’s Law, requiring all offenders to install ignition interlocks in any vehicle he or she drives, anti-drunk driving advocates must have felt a sense of relief. The fight they had waged to bring stiffer penalties to drunk drivers in the state had finally been won, bu the battle to ensure ignition interlock compliance is just beginning.

Just because your state requires ignition interlocks for all offenders doesn’t mean that all offenders will use them as mandated. Some will install the device and try to get others to blow into them to start the vehicle, while others will avoid the install completely and hope they’re never stopped while driving on a suspended license. These situations are just a few of the reasons why all Maryland ignition interlocks will bear a sticker with the face of Officer Noah Leotta.

Officer Noah Leotta was struck while he was working at a drunk driving checkpoint in December of 2015. He died a week later from his injuries, and from that point on his family and anti-drunk driving advocates fought to bring Maryland ignition interlocks to all offenders. Noah’s Law, also known as The Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, went into effect on October 1st, 2016.

Although other states have passed similar laws, it’s fairly well known that, after the law is passed, most will struggle with interlock penalty compliance. New York state has publicized a mere 21% compliance rate in one county, and 27% in others.

That’s why Leotta’s family wasn’t content to sit back and hope that Maryland offenders make the smart choice and actually use the devices. They decided to add a humanizing touch to each interlock distributed in Maryland by putting a sticker of Officer Leotta on them. They’re hoping that the sticker will remind the offender why they have the interlock in the first place.

Will the sticker work? Time will tell, but even if that sticker only stops a handful of offenders from making a wrong decision when it comes to drinking and driving, it will be worth the effort.

Road Dedicated To Officer Responsible for Maryland Ignition Interlock Law

Maryland ignition interlock laws

Image from Washington Post

It’s sad that the biggest changes seem to take place in the world because of tragic events. It might have something to do with how people become complacent and it’s just easier to keep the status quo, and sometimes it really requires something substantial to make people change their minds on a major issue. That’s what’s happened in Maryland over the past year, and now that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has dedicated a stretch of highway to Officer Noah Leotta, drivers will be constantly reminded of the tragic event that caused Maryland ignition interlock and drunk driving laws to be changed.

Officer Noah Leotta died on the side of a Maryland roadway after being hit by Luis Reluzco. Leotta was working as part of a holiday sobriety checkpoint and was standing outside of his car when Reluzco’s vehicle struck him, and he flew into the air due to the sheer force of the hit and landed near another vehicle that had been just pulled over. Seven days after the crash, Leotta died in the hospital from his injuries.

When police stopped and obtained a breathalyzer sample from Reluzco, they found him to be three times the legal limit of .08, and he was so drunk he didn’t even realize he had hit someone.

When Officer Leotta died, his family, local lawmakers, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) came out in force against drunk driving and proposed a change to Maryland ignition interlock laws. After a long battle, the Governor signed Noah’s Law, bringing ignition interlocks to all offenders in Maryland.

Because of the highway dedication and Noah’s Law, Officer Leotta is still on the job and stopping drunk drivers in Maryland. Anyone who drives on that highway, hears Officer Leotta’s story, and is required to install an ignition interlock because of his tragic death will know his name, remember how he died, and hopefully understand what can happen if you make the decision to drink and drive.

Noah’s Law Brings Ignition Interlocks To All Offenders In Maryland

ignition interlocks marylandOctober is the month of fall, chillier days, and Halloween. In Maryland, it’s also the month local law enforcement have been waiting for. Noah’s Law, requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted driving under the influence (DUI) offenders, went into effect on October 1st, 2016.

If you’re charged with drunk driving in Maryland you’ll be required to install ignition interlocks in any vehicle you drive and use it for six months. If you don’t install the interlock you’ll lose your driver’s license for six months, and if you don’t submit to a breathalyzer test when you’re requested to do so, you’ll have to use an ignition interlock for nine months or lose your driver’s license for nine months.

It’s the end of a long road for the people in Maryland and others around the nation who supported Noah’s Law. Because Noah Leotta was law enforcement killed on duty while working a drunk driving checkpoint, his death really struck a cord with lawmakers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The organization even dedicated their annual report on ignition interlocks to him, and they pushed hard for Noah’s Law to be passed.

Along with Noah’s Law, 300 other laws took effect on October 1st, and one of them targets underage drinkers. Alex and Calvin’s Law is now in effect in Maryland, and it will allow for repercussions if a parent lets underage drinkers leave a party where they’ve provided alcohol or supplied a venue. If the teen who left injures themselves or others in a crash due to drinking at one of these parties, the parents could spend up to a year in jail.

There’s also a new penalties for vehicular manslaughter. If a repeat drunk driver is convicted of vehicular manslaughter, he or she could receive up to fifteen years in prison instead of five years as previously mandated. They will also pay fines up to $15,000.

With these three new laws on the books, Maryland has just become a much safer place for all drivers.

Drunk Drivers Not Learning From Mistakes In Maryland

Here’s How Maryland High Schools Deal With Underage Drinking

underage drinking marylandUnderage drinking is huge problem in high schools, and it’s why you see some high school administrators put their foot down and request breathalyzer tests at proms or dances. It’s also a big problem in teen homes, because parents can sometimes think if they let their kids drink at home with friends, they’re safer than if they were to go out.

One principal in Maryland doesn’t believe underage drinking should happen at school or at home, and after a local school lost two students to a drunk driving crash in 2015, she decided she needed to penalize students who drink at school functions. Unfortunately the school superintendent isn’t on board with this administrator’s penalty.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland sent out a stern warning to students before prom: if anyone was caught drinking alcohol or doing drugs, they wouldn’t be able to participate in graduation activities. Apparently some students didn’t listen, because six students, including seniors, were drunk at the event.

Despite the fact that some parents were in support of the discipline, the head of the Montgomery County School district decided to overrule the principal. He reversed the graduation ban and stated in a letter to parents that he decided graduating seniors would be allowed to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.

Although the Bethesda-Chevy Chase penalty didn’t stick, other nearby schools have prevented students from enjoying graduation.  The principal at nearby Walt Whitman high school is barring one student from the stage for graduation because that student drank at prom, and he also sent out a letter to parents before Halloween because he heard parents were hosting underage drinking parties. He wanted them to understand that letting your teen drink at home won’t stop them from drinking and driving. He also reminded them that if you do provide alcohol to teens and you’re caught, you could receive a $2,500 fine.

Maryland high schools may not be the only schools in the nation who are having underage drinking problems, but they are definitely stepping up and addressing it head. Because of that, they’re setting a great example for other high schools to follow.


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