In Maryland, ‘Alex and Calvin’s Law’ and other statutes are taking effect

Starting Saturday, adults who provide alcohol to underage individuals in Maryland face up to one year of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000, if the drinkers are going to drive and if that driving results in serious injury or death.

The original form of the statute, known as Alex and Calvin’s Law and named after two Maryland high school graduates killed in such an incident, included jail time and the $5,000 fine regardless of whether the minors were involved in an accident or the adult knew they planned to drive.

The law is one of several — including the anti-drunken-driving ignition-lock bill known as Noah’s Law — that take effect Saturday.

The first provisions of Maryland’s sweeping criminal justice legislation are also being launched, primarily an expansion of drug and mental-health treatment for offenders.

The state will also create a panel to track and assess the outcomes of the broad changes in sentencing and treatment policies approved by the legislature, most of which start taking effect next year.

Rich Leotta has state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) sign a shirt commemorating the signing of Noah’s Law, a measure that will expand the use of interlock ignitions on drunk drivers. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

In addition, starting Saturday, drug prescribers and providers in Maryland are required to register with a database that helps track potential abuse of painkiller medications and notifies doctors, pharmacists, licensing boards and police of suspicious activity.

The final deadline for registering is July 1.

Noah’s Law was named after Montgomery County police officer Noah A. Leotta, who died after being hit by a drunk driver.

The law expands the use of ignition interlock for impaired motorists and significantly increases the driver’s license suspension period. An ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver’s breath and retests the driver at random points while driving.

A separate law requires that all drivers have with them or in their vehicle a current insurance identification card issued by their insurance company. The card may be on paper or plastic or in an electronic format. Starting July 1, anyone without a card faces a $50 fine.

In addition, vehicles may no longer be registered as historic if they are used for employment, “commercial purposes,” or commuting to and from a job or school. Also, vehicles with a historic registration that are a model year 1986 or newer may be issued roadside safety equipment repair orders by law enforcement officers.

Several laws aimed at helping the homeless also take effect, including one that prohibits the state from charging a fee for homeless individuals to obtain their birth certificates, and another that waives the GED testing fee for homeless youth.

Employers in the state will be barred from providing less-favorable employment opportunities based on sex or gender identity, and they will not be allowed to forbid workers from discussing or disclosing wages.

Another new law requires the state to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent compared with 2006 levels over the next 14 years, enhancing a previous law that required the state to reduce the levels by 25 percent by 2020.

Home poker games, which are commonplace but technically illegal, are allowed in Maryland starting Saturday, as long as they don’t involve wagering of more than $1,000 in a 24-hour period and don’t take place more than once a week.

In Montgomery County, a law is taking effect that requires all county employers to provide earned sick and “safe” leave, including time off to care for a family member who has been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Companies with five or more employees must provide paid leave. Firms with fewer than five can offer unpaid leave.

In Prince George’s County, the minimum wage will rise from $9.55 to $10.75, with some exceptions, including tipped employees, those younger than 16 working less than 20 hours a week, close relatives of an employer and certain agricultural workers. The county’s minimum wage will increase to $11.50 one year from now.

Bill Turque and Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.

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