Friday, February 26, 2016

Council President's Letter in Support of Drunk Driving Bills

February 23, 2016

Senator Nancy J. King
Montgomery County Senate Delegation Chair
11 Bladen Street
223 James Senate Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401

Delegate Shane Robinson
Montgomery County House Delegation Chair
6 Bladen Street
223 House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Senator King, Delegate Robinson and the Montgomery County Delegation:

As we are all painfully aware, one of our Police Officers, Noah Leotta, was struck and killed by a drunk driver less than three months ago. Officer Leotta was one of nine people killed in Montgomery County last year as the result of a drunk driver.

The Montgomery County Council joins our Police Chief in calling for the State of Maryland to strengthen our laws against drunk and impaired driving. There are several pieces of legislation that have been proposed that would stop impaired individuals from driving in the first place as well as act as a real deterrent for those drunk drivers who are endangering every other motorist.

On behalf of the entire Montgomery County Council, I am asking for your complete support of the four Montgomery County-sponsored DUI-related bills that are being championed by Chief J. Thomas Manger and are being heard this session. Those bills are:  HB 345, HB409, HB 735, and HB 1342 (and their cross-files). We believe that these bills are the strongest legislation pending and need unanimous support by our delegation.

As you deliberate these bills, please consider these sobering facts:

  • Last year 20,000 people were arrested for DUI in Maryland. Research has shown that a drunk driver gets behind the wheel of a car, impaired, 80 times before they are caught by police.
  • Convicted drunk drivers frequently drive even though their license is suspended.
  • The best way to stop convicted drunk drivers from driving impaired is to mandate an ignition interlock system after their first arrest. This device prevents impaired drivers from being able to start their car if they have had alcohol. Last year, an ignition interlock system prevented impaired drivers from starting their cars 18,000 times.
  • Two Wootten High School students died last year in a drunk-driving crash. The parents who hosted an alcohol party and provided the liquor to underage kids faced only a fine after being responsible for these two deaths.
  • Officer Noah Leotta was killed by a three-time repeat drunk driver. The driver had a blood-alcohol level that was nearly three times the legal limit for intoxication. Despite his callous indifference to the law and the safety of others, this driver will likely spend only a few years in jail.
  • Businesses that serve underage drinkers and over-serve drunk individuals in their establishments currently do not face civil penalties if someone gets killed or injured by a drunk driver. Maryland is one of only a few states left that does not hold businesses liable for illegal alcohol sales.
Once again, we ask for your support of HB 345, HB409, HB 735 and HB 1342 to help provide a safer environment for everyone.


Nancy Floreen
County Council President

Cc:  Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., Maryland President of Senate
        Honorable Michael Erin Busch, Maryland Speaker of House of Delegates

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