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Annie’s Law: Ohio’s new drunk driving crackdown

Anna Louise Rooney was a 36-year-old resident of Chillicothe, Ohio, when she was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013. The driver’s blood alcohol content was over twice the legal limit, and he had had multiple previous convictions for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. As recounted by AnnieRooney.com, Annie, as she was known to family, friends and colleagues, had graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School and was a practicing attorney in Chillicothe at the time of her death. Nearly four years later, on April 1, 2017, Ohio instituted a new anti-drunk driving law known as Annie’s Law.

Under the new law, which seeks to cut down on the number of repeat OVI offenders who drive on Ohio’s roads and highways, judges can order that an offender have an ignition interlock system installed on his or her vehicle in order to be able to drive. IILs require that a driver blow into a breath device before turning on the car. If the machine detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start.

Additional Annie’s Law provisions

While Ohio judges already had the authority to order IIL systems for repeat offenders, the new law gives them the authority to do so for first-time offenders, too. Local news NBC4i.com reports that under Annie’s Law, the mandatory minimum driver’s license suspension doubles for a first-time OVI offender. However, the judge can cut the new 13-month suspension in half by ordering that the offender install an IIL system on his or her vehicle.

Under the old law, judges could review a defendant’s driving record for the previous six years to determine if he or she had had prior OVI convictions. Annie’s Law increases this “look back” period to 10 years.

As an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer noted, approximately 40 percent of Ohio’s 2016 traffic deaths were OVI-related. Annie’s Law and its focus on stopping repeat drunk drivers is a fitting memorial to Annie Roonie.

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