05 Jul 2016

Maryland DUI Interlock case: Offender was at twice legal limit

A Maryland woman released early from prison after killing two people in a 2009 drunken-driving crash was sent back to jail Wednesday after an alcohol-sensing “interlock” device stopped her several times from starting her car.

“I don’t know what to do with you. I truly don’t,” an exasperated judge told Kelli Loos, 40, during a hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Judge Joseph Dugan ordered Loos held without bond for 90 days, at which point he will bring her back for sentencing. Loos and her attorney are advocating she go to a treatment program. Prosecutors want incarceration.

After tripping the device last year, Loos of Annapolis claimed that Altoids breath mints caused the device to indicate alcohol infractions. In court Wednesday, she abandoned the mint claims.

“I made poor decisions,” she told Dugan, adding, “I need help.”

Her case has taken on new resonance in a state in which some lawmakers are pushing to toughen drunken-driving laws and penalties.

Two of the legislative proposals in Maryland: Raise the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter convictions, like those in the 2009 Loos case; and require anyone convicted of drunken-driving to install an interlock device, not just those drivers who exceed certain thresholds.

Loos was paroled from prison in 2013, after serving four years of a 10-year sentence. She later was permitted to drive as long as she first blew into an interlock.

At least three times, the device halted her from starting her car when she was legally drunk, prosecutors said. One of the readings was a 0.16, which is twice the legal limit.

“Here she is: She’s back,” prosecutor Mark Anderson said in court Wednesday. “The interlock works or else she’d be driving around at these levels. These levels are ridiculous.”

Loos, a graduate of Virginia Tech University who had worked as a meeting planner, stood for much of the hearing on Wednesday, wiping away tears. Dugan ruled that she violated her probation for two reasons: Drinking, and trying to drive after drinking.

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