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Ohio State Senate Nearing Deadline To Pass Annie's Law

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The Ohio State Senate only has a few days left to vote on Annie’s Law, also known as House Bill 388, before the Senate session ends for the year. This bill passed the House with 87 yes votes to only 6 no votes back on May 18, but may not progress any further if this year’s deadline passes. If it is approved by the Senate, 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.”

Annie’s Law is named after Annie Rooney, a young woman who was struck and killed in a head-on crash by a drunk driver while riding her bicycle on July 4, 2013 in Chillicothe, OH. The driver in question had three previous DUI convictions at the time of the crash. Ever since that fateful crash, Rooney’s family has fought to pass the law that they hope would protect other people from suffering a similar fate. Rooney’s brother Walt commented on the accident in an interview with WLWT the day after it passed the House:

“This person was driving 80 miles an hour with no lights at dusk. There are no skid marks after she veered into my sister’s lane.”

This is the second time the bill was introduced – it was amended over concerns that the law would limit judge’s discretion when sentencing first-time offenders, and now offers incentives when the defendant agrees to install an interlock device in their vehicle like unlimited driving privileges. In addition, all jail time would be suspended and the time their license could be suspended may be reduced by as much as half. Ohio Senator and Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee Jay Hottinger, (R), recently commented that:

“The difficulty right now is just the process of whether we can have enough committee hearings to weigh the bill and get it through… The impact and anguish the families are going through certainly weighs in.”

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