Noah On Patrol Tells Judges: “We’re Watching!”

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Campaign named for fallen MCPD Officer Noah Leotta aims to make Montgomery County first in nation to eliminate drunk driving

Noah on Patrol

Having to blow into an alcohol detector before starting a car saves lives. Our judges need to ensure that all drunk driving offenders are required to install ignition interlocks to protect themselves and everyone they share the road with. -Rich Leotta, Founder of Noah On Patrol

Noah On Patrol has its eye on local judges who fail to hold drunk drivers accountable. Judges routinely place (so-called) first-time DUI offenders on probation (called PBJ — Probation Before Judgement), and thereby skirt the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, commonly known as Noah’s Law. That law, passed in 2016, requires installation of ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers, but not for offenders put on probation.

Judges’ routine slaps on wrists are a source of great frustration for police officers making DUI arrests — often at great risk to themselves — who feel their enforcement of Noah’s Law is frequently undermined in court. Noah On Patrol will periodically release the results of its court-monitoring effort, and will publicly put the pressure on judges, naming those who let drunk drivers off with little-to-no consequences.

“Having to blow into an alcohol detector before starting a car saves lives,” says Noah On Patrol founder Rich Leotta. “Our judges need to ensure that all drunk driving offenders are required to install ignition interlocks to protect themselves and everyone they share the road with.” The CDC reports that a drunk-driving offender has driven drunk on average 88 times before getting caught.

Noah On Patrol is named for Leotta’s son, Noah, a 24-year-old Montgomery County Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver while on DUI patrol in December 2015. When Noah’s Law was approved by the state, Officer Leotta’s father said: “From now on, every time an ignition interlock device is installed in Maryland, it will be like Noah is still on patrol.” It’s Noah On Patrol’s intent to make sure that law is enforced.

The 18-month initiative is aimed at making Montgomery County the first major jurisdiction in the nation to eliminate drunk driving, and will run through the Christmas-New Year’s holiday season in 2019. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will follow the initiative’s progress to determine its effect on public awareness and safety.

The campaign is inspiring government, the business community, the nonprofit sector, and concerned residents to join together to make Montgomery County #NoahStrong and a model for eliminating drunk driving in America.

In addition to its efforts to keep judges accountable, Noah On Patrol will announce at its news conference another major effort: Making Montgomery County, Maryland, the first major jurisdiction in the nation to eliminate drunk driving, thus serving as a model for local jurisdictions nationwide. Montgomery County has already adopted a Vision Zero plan to achieve zero traffic crash deaths by 2030, and an interim goal of a 35 percent reduction by the end of 2019. In support of these goals, Noah On Patrol will feature a sustained campaign seeking to deter drunk driving by:

  • Publicizing stepped up enforcement of drunk driving laws, especially during higher risk periods.
  • Bringing renewed attention to the costs and consequences of drunk driving, and the personal pain and suffering of victims and their families, including first responders.
  • Urging those who choose to drink to routinely use ride services and designate non-drinking drivers.

Noah On Patrol is inspiring government, the business community, the nonprofit sector, and concerned residents to join together to make Montgomery County #NoahStrong and a model for eliminating drunk driving in America.

To drivers who feel tempted to drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, Rich Leotta has a message: “If you think it will never happen to you, you’re not thinking. If you think you won’t get caught, you’re not thinking. If you think you’d never hurt anyone, you’re not thinking. You have to think when you drink: Get a ride. Don’t drink and drive.”

Chuck Hurley, one of the campaign’s leaders, who also belongs to the Maryland chapter of MADD, says: “Noah was passionate about public safety and committed to helping take drunk drivers off the road. It’s time for the people of Montgomery County to join together in ending drunk driving and making this jurisdiction a shining example for the rest of the nation.”

Visit NoahOnPatrol.org to learn more, join the effort, and donate to the campaign.

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Kathleen Silverstein