Richard Leotta wears the badge that belonged to his son Noah and a button that supports tougher drunken-driving laws. Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County police officer, was killed by a suspected drunk driver. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Advocates who have been pushing for seven years to expand the use of interlock ignitions for drunk drivers in Maryland were elated last week when the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the measure.

This week, they are not as happy with the bill.

After taking a closer look at the amendments that were added to the bill, they said committee members added a loophole that could allow some drunk drivers to remain on the roads.

“It’s a weaker bill than the one that was submitted,” said Lisa Spicknall, the state program director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “There was some good progress made, but we are looking for additional progress to strengthen the bill.”

The advocates’ main objection is the removal of a provision that sought to require ignition interlocks for suspected drunk drivers who refuse to take the alcohol breath test.

Under the bill, motorists convicted of driving at or above the state’s legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08 percent would be required to breathe into a tube before they can try to start their vehicles. Under current law, ignition interlocks are placed on the cars of people convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher.

“I’m terribly disappointed by what the committee did to this bill,” said Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery), the sponsor of the bill. “It came in a very strong, meaningful piece of legislation. What is left is the bare minimum. . . . It’s absolutely unacceptable, and it has to be addressed.”

Kramer said he plans to introduce an amendment to restore the provision when the House of Delegates considers the bill on Friday.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, law enforcement officials and the families of drunken-driving victims — including the parents of Noah Leotta, a Montgomery County police officer who was killed by a drunk driver while on DUI patrol — returned to Annapolis for a hearing on the bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Before the start of the hearing, they held a news conference about “Noah’s Law” and urged the General Assembly to pass the original bill.

“We’re not done fighting yet,” Spicknall said.