Ohio is taking great strides this year to reduce the number of drunk drivers on its roads. The Ohio legislature passed House Bill 388 in December and it was signed into law by Gov. Kasich shortly after. Known as “Annie’s Law,” after Annie Rooney, a local prosecutor who was killed by a drunk driver, HB 388 increases the use of ignition interlock devices for individuals convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) for the first time.
This option does not go into effect until April 1, 2017. However, if you are currently facing OVI charges, you may seek limited driving privileges or full driving privileges with an ignition interlock device. Judges have the discretion to provide this option in some cases. To learn more about your legal options and potential OVI defenses, contact a Columbus DUI defense attorney from Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836.
Starting April 1, ignition interlock devices will not only be for repeat offenders. These devices, which function as a breath test that must be taken and passed before a vehicle can turn on, will now be more readily available to first-time offenders who want to keep their driving privileges.
HB 388 includes a number of provisions that change how Ohio handles first-time OVI offenders, including:
- Increases the duration of a license suspension for first-time offenders from six months to one year
- Allows first-time offenders to ask the court for unlimited driving privileges with an ignition interlock device on their vehicle
- Enables the court to grant unlimited driving privileges with an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle
- If the court grants unlimited driving privileges, it may suspend any jail term and reduce the license suspension by up to half
- If the offender violates any terms or conditions of the license suspension, the offender may serve the suspended jail time
- Compliance-based removal requires that any violations regarding the use of the ignition interlock device within the last 60 days of the license suspension increases the duration of the suspension and use of the device for another 60 days
- Upon an ignition interlock device violation, the offender may be required to wear a continuous alcohol monitor for a period of time
- Ignition interlock device violations include tampering with or attempting to circumvent the device or failing a breath test with the device
- Extends the look back period for OVI offenses from six years to 10 years
The Benefits of Annie’s Law
This law stops OVI offenders from being able to use their vehicles if they have alcohol in their systems. An offender with an ignition interlock device on their car must blow a clean breath test before the vehicle will start. If the device detects alcohol on their breath, then the vehicle cannot be started for a set period of time. The device also records a log of this failed attempt, which can be viewed by the manufacturer and court. A failed attempt is a violation that increases the duration of the suspension and pushes back when the ignition interlock device can come off.
Ohio believes this will take more drunk drivers off the roads compared to license suspensions or limited driving privileges alone. It is difficult to enforce license suspensions or limited driver’s licenses, and they give offenders room to get behind the wheel after they have been drinking. Ignition interlock devices take this option away entirely while allowing offenders to get to and from work, school, appointments, and errands.
Ignition Interlock Devices Are Proven to Keep Drunk Drivers Off the Roads
Ignition interlock devices are proven effective. States with strict ignition interlock devices laws like West Virginia have seen a decrease in drunk driving fatalities up to 50 percent. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University, published this January, found that between 1982 and 2013, ignition interlock devices reduced fatal drunk driving crashes by 7 percent across the country. In total, 1,250 lives have been saved. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) conducted a nationwide survey as well and found ignition interlocks stopped more than 1.77 million attempts to drive while intoxicated.
Contact a Columbus DUI Defense Attorney for Help
Ignition interlock devices are beneficial for both the state and OVI offenders. If you made a mistake and are facing your first DUI charge, you will soon have the option to be able to keep driving as long as you remain sober. This enables you to avoid some of the harshest punishments of an OVI – jail and a license suspension.
At the moment, Annie’s Law is not in effect. The penalties for a first-time OVI with a blood alcohol content between .08 and .17 percent through the end of March is 72 hours to six months in jail, a six-month to three-year license suspension, and fines up to $1,000. However, judges do have the discretion to provide you with driving privileges if you agree to use an ignition interlock device.
To learn more about how to minimize the consequences of a DUI charge, contact the Columbus DUI Lawyers of Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a consultation.