On Wednesday, May 18, a man pled guilty to a felony charge stemming from a drunken driving incident that resulted in the death of Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta. One day later, Governor Larry Hogan signed the anti-DUI bill that bears the officer’s name into Maryland law.
Luis Gustavo Reluzco, 47,pled guilty to manslaughter by motor vehicle after striking and killing 24-year-old Leotta on Dec. 3. According to police, Reluzco had a blood alcohol content of .22 percent, well above the state .08 limit. Now, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Reluzco had been drinking earlier that night at the Hooters restaurant on Rockville Pike. Later, going northbound on Rockville Pike, he struck Leotta with his Honda CR-V while the officer was standing next to his police vehicle administering a traffic stop. Leotta died from his injuries a week later.
“From our standpoint, not having to go to trial, alleviates some of that pain and suffering of going through all the details,” said Leotta’s father Rich Leotta. “…but the pain and suffering of losing our son doesn’t change no matter what happened today or any other day.”
After his death, many in Montgomery County, including Leotta’s family and Montgomery County Police Chief J. Tom Manger, pushed the state to pass tougher drunk driving laws.
In response, State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) sponsored “Noah’s Law,” otherwise known as the Drunk Driving Act of 2016. The bill would strengthen Maryland’s existing DUI laws by requiring drivers who fail a Blood Alcohol Calculator test to enter into an Ignition Interlock System Program for six months for their first offense.
“Maryland went from having one of the weakest DUI laws on the books to having one of the strongest,” said Montgomery County Police Information Officer Rick Goodale.
The bill quickly passed through the Maryland General Assembly, receiving unanimous support in the House of Delegates and the Senate. On Thursday, Hogan officially signed the bill into law.
Rich Leotta said he hopes that “Noah’s Law” will stop drivers from driving drunk.
“This could have been prevented and the outcome is totally predictable,” Rich Leotta said. “And that’s why we have battled for ‘Noah’s Law,’ so we will prevent that type (of) situation ever happening again to other families.”
Reluzco is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 23.