Annie’s Law Not A Slam Dunk

ignition interlock Annie’s Law or House Bill 469 has been in the news quite a bit this past year. The proposed legislation asking for changes to Ohio’s operating vehicle impaired (OVI) ignition interlock laws has seen its fair share of debate, and now it seems as though the support for it has been split right down the middle.

Current OVI laws in Ohio allow judges to decide whether or not a driver should be ordered to use an ignition interlock device, but they are required for any offender who has been convicted of OVI twice within a six-year period. If House Bill 469 passes, all offenders, including first time offenders, will be required to install the device, and that’s where those opposing the bill have an issue.

Judges meeting for the Ohio Judicial Conference opposed the bill recently, saying it would cause a reduction in a judge’s discretionary powers. Shortly after, the bill was pulled from an expected committee vote in the Ohio House. A few of those opposed stated that the bill was too much, simply because some people who receive a first time OVI never drive drunk again, while others cited the cost of an ignition interlock for offenders as a factor in their opposition.

But the bill isn’t without its support – members of Ohio law enforcement have said that anything that takes drunk drivers off the road is a step in the right direction, and that if it makes the streets safer, everyone should be for it.

Making the streets safer for everyone was the goal of Annie’s Law right from its inception. The bill was named for Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe, Ohio lawyer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in July 2013. That drunk driver had been arrested three times for previous OVIs, resulting in one OVI conviction and two plea deals, and her family would like to see drunk driving become a thing of the past.

All eyes will be on the future of Annie’s Law. You can keep up to date on what’s happening with Annie’s Law by visiting the Annie Rooney website.





DUI Plates, Ignition Interlock Laws Make Ohio Bad for Drunk Drivers

DUI license plate OhioHave you ever heard of DUI plates? If you haven’t, it’s probably because your state doesn’t use them. The bright red, yellow, or white plates alert drivers and highway patrol that the person behind the wheel has a drunk driving conviction on their record. The state of Ohio has been using DUI plates since 1967, and up until 2004 judges had the option of penalizing a repeat operating vehicle impaired (OVI) offender with the noticeable plates. On January 1st, 2004, DUI plates became mandatory in Ohio for repeat OVI offenders.

If the concept of DUI plates reminds you of Nathanial Hawthorne’s tale of public humiliation ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ you’re not alone. They’re designed specifically to put the spotlight, however embarrassing, on drunk drivers. Although those who have to use the plates feel it’s an invasion of personal privacy and publicly humiliating for people in the vehicle with them, lawmakers see the ‘Scarlet Plates’ as a reasonable penalty for someone who drives under the influence.

Public humiliation via DUI plates may be a good deterrent, but when it comes to keeping drunk drivers off the road, Ohio hasn’t stopped there. New ignition interlock laws are on the verge of passing in the state. Ohio House Bill 469, otherwise known as ‘Annie’s Law,’ has passed through 4 committee hearings and is on its way to a 5th hearing and vote on Tuesday, September 29th, 2014. Named for Annie Rooney, a lawyer who was killed by a drunk driver in Ohio, the law will require all offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle upon their first OVI conviction.

With DUI plates for repeat offenders and ignition interlock devices for all offenders, Ohio should see a big drop in alcohol-related fatalities and drinking drivers on the roads.

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