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State Police Rolling Out A Mobile Breathalyzer Truck

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- State police are rolling out a new tool to get drunk drivers off the road.

Alex DeMetrick reports, it puts part of a police station on wheels.

It's the first of its kind in Maryland: A mobile breath alcohol testing truck.

"It's going to streamline the process for arresting officers as well as those that are arrested for impaired driving offenses," says Sgt. Corey Steffy, of the Maryland State Police.

Here's how. Right now, when a driver is believed to be under the influence, a field sobriety check is done. Fail it, and the officer must drive the suspect back to the station for a breathalyzer test. But the new truck takes the breathalyzer to the street.

"Primarily they're going to remain here until a sober, responsible adult can pick them up, or they're taken to a commissioner," Sgt. Steffy says. "It will depend on the circumstances of the individual case."

This leaves more officers on the road to look for more drunk drivers.

"My biggest concern outside the motoring public is for my troopers as well," says Col. William Pallozzi, MSP Superintendent. "We've had 38 troopers hit this year."

You may remember that a Montgomery County officer was hit and killed by a drunk driver last December. Noah Leotta was only 24 years old.

Leotta was working a special DUI assignment the night of the crash.

"... my son volunteered for it because he knew he had an interest in trying to protect people from drunk drivers," according to Leotta's father, Rich.

That loss sparked Noah's Law, which requires convicted drunk drivers to use a breathalyzer to start their cars.

"Noah's Law will help change their behavior so they won't do it again," Rich says.

The truck, meanwhile, will roll out for the first time Friday night in Montgomery County, where the number of drunk driving arrests this year are certain to increase.

"I can tell you the State Police, we're up to 6,500, which is up about 100 from where we were last year," according to Col. Pallozzi.

The mobile testing truck was purchased with $450,000 in federal funds.

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