Drunk driving remains one of the top reasons for traffic fatalities in the nation and within our state. In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol, an alarming number that shows just how far reaching this issue is.
It is clear that as a society we must find a better way to reduce drunk driving on our roadways. For that reason, the Ohio House has passed House Bill 388, also known as Annie’s Law. This legislation is aimed at eliminating drunk drivers from committing the offense a second time, or even a third, fourth or more.
Annie’s Law, named after Ross County resident Annie Rooney who lost her life to a driver with multiple prior OVI offenses, allows individuals facing OVI charges to opt for an ignition interlock device rather than a driver’s license suspension. The ignition interlock device, or IID, requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer in order to start their car engine, ensuring that the individual is completely sober before getting behind the wheel.
Currently, any person charged with an OVI, or even the lesser offense of Reckless Operation, often serves a six month or more license suspension in which they are only able to drive to work or school. According to the Transportation Research Board, anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of offenders continue to drive under the license suspension.
An IID comes with a preconceived opinion within society, one that I believe should change. The IID is a win-win; a win for the safety of all Ohioans and a win for the DUI offender who needs to ensure that they can still get to where they need to be, 100 percent sober. Should the individual charged with a DUI opt for installing an IID, under HB 388 they would have unlimited driving privileges to take their child to daycare or go to the store to buy food for the family.
Make no mistake; this is not a piece of legislation that is soft on crime. Annie’s Law will prevent these DUI offenders from being able to get behind the wheel of their car intoxicated, and will also ensure that the offender is not tempted to violate their suspension.
I was proud to vote in favor of Annie’s Law because I believe it will go a long way to making our western Ohio roadways much safer.
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.