COLUMBUS — Wednesday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 388, “Annie’s Law,” to increase the use of ignition interlocks and prevent tragedies caused by drunk driving. The General Assembly unanimously passed the bill December 6.
The new law, which takes effect April 4, reduces a 12-month license suspension period by half for first offenders if they use an ignition interlock for at least six months. Currently in Ohio, interlocks are required for repeat offenders and are up to judges’ discretion for first-time offenders.
Ignition interlocks prevent a car from starting when alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. Unlike license suspensions and route- and time-restricted driving privileges, use of ignition interlocks allow for unrestricted driving, provided the driver is sober.
Under the new law:
• Allows a first-time drunk driver to petition the court for unlimited driving privileges with an interlock device during the period of the offender’s driver’s license suspension. It authorizes the court to grant unlimited driving privileges with an interlock to a first-time OVI offender.
• Increases the license suspension period for first-time offenders from a minimum of six months to a minimum of one year.
• If the court grants a first-time offender unlimited driving privileges with an interlock, the court must suspend any jail term and may reduce the license suspension by up to half.
• Any interlock violation during the last 60 days of the suspension extends the interlock use and suspension for another 60 days from the violation, as part of the law known as “compliance-based removal.”
Annie’s Law, authored by Representative Gary Scherer and led through the Senate by Senator Bob Peterson and Senator Jay Hottinger, is named in honor of Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe resident who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013.
“MADD is grateful to Governor Kasich and the dedicated legislators who share our mission to eliminate this 100 percent preventable crime,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Many lives will be saved as Ohio increases the number ignition interlocks used by drunk driving offenders.”
As part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, now in its 10th year, one of MADD’s top legislative priorities is to improve ignition interlock laws in every state.
States with the strongest ignition interlock laws, such as West Virginia and New Mexico which require them for all drunk driving offenders, have seen reductions in drunk driving deaths of 50 and 38 percent, respectively. In February, MADD released its first-ever ignition interlock report to show how many times ignition interlock have stopped someone from driving drunk. Across the nation, ignition interlocks have stopped more than 1.77 million drunk driving attempts.