The Ohio State Senate voted to pass Annie’s Law on Tuesday, December 6.
If this is signed into law, judges would be allowed to grant first-time DUI / OVI offenders full driving privileges, as long as they installed an ignition interlock system in their vehicles. The law states that it would:
"[A]uthorize a court to grant unlimited driving privileges with an ignition interlock device to a first-time OVI offender, to expand the penalties related to ignition interlock device violations, to modify the law governing the installation and monitoring of ignition interlock devices, to extend the look back period for OVI and OVI-related offenses from six to ten years, and to modify the penalties for OVI offenses."
These ignition locks require the driver of the vehicle to blow into a built-in breathalyzer – if they blow over the limit, their car won’t start.
The law is named after Annie Rooney, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding her bicycle on July 4, 2013. The driver that struck Rooney had three previous DUI convictions.
"We believe that this law is not a radical change but a furtherance of activities that will further minimize the risk, and we believe will save, just in the state of Ohio, 50 to 100 lives a year,” commented Dr. Richard Rooney, Annie’s father.
Annie’s Law passed the House on May 18 of this year with 87 yes votes and only 6 no votes. We previously wrote about this law when some questioned whether or not it would see a vote in the Senate before the end of this year’s session. Governor John Kasich is expected to sign this bill into law sometime in early 2017.
The Koffel Law Firm founding partner Brad Koffel commented on this bill, saying that, “In my nearly 25 years of doing DUI in Ohio, this is the smartest piece of legislation to come down the pike.”
This is the second time a version of this bill was introduced. The previous version was amended after concerns were brought up over potential limits placed on a judge’s discretion when sentencing first-time OVI / DUI offenders. The current version includes incentives for drivers who agree to install an interlock device in their vehicle after being charged with a DUI / OVI.