A Montgomery County police officer who was fatally struck by a drunken driver while conducting a DUI checkpoint was being honored Tuesday afternoon at a street naming ceremony.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan dedicated part of Georgia Avenue in the Olney area to Officer Noah Leotta, who was raised and educated in Olney, where he is now buried.
Hogan called Leotta a true Maryland hero.
Leotta's parents received a copy of the sign unveiled Tuesday.
"It reminds us of the sacrifice of Noah and all the men and women in blue, and it also reminds us of the senseless and tragic deaths of all drunk drivers," said his father, Rich Leotta.
"To have a sign like this unveiled along a busy roadway like this really demonstrates that people do honor his sacrifice," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said. "They do honor the work that he did."
Leotta, 24, was critically injured the evening of Dec. 3, 2015, after volunteering to work on a special holiday drunk-driving patrol. He had stopped a suspected drunken driver at Rockville Pike and Edmonston Drive in Rockville, Maryland, and was outside his cruiser when Luis Reluzco smashed into the police car and then struck him, police said.
Leotta was rushed to a hospital but died on Dec. 10. Reluzco pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in May.
Police say Reluzco was driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and with evidence of marijuana and Xanax in his system. Reluzco had at least three previous alcohol-related arrests, police said in February.
Next month, a law named in Leotta's honor will go into effect. Noah's Law requires breath-testing ignition devices for anyone convicted of drunken driving.
The law will require the devices to be installed for six months in the vehicle of anyone who blows a .08 in a breath test or else the person's license would be suspended for that time period. If someone refuses a breath test, they would either have to install the devices for nine months or have their license suspended for that time.
"We now have the toughest interlock ignition laws in the entire country, and it is going to save lives," Hogan said. "We anticipate somewhere between 50 and 100 lives a year are going to be saved as a result of this law being on the books."