Annie’s Law, a bill that would significantly reduce drunk driving deaths in Ohio by expanding car breathalyzer use to include first-time drunk driving offenders, will not get a final vote until after the November 4th election due to recent changes that make the bill even tougher on drunk drivers. The House Judiciary Committee accepted the changes but will not vote on the bill before the House’s summer break.
Created after local attorney Annie Rooney was killed in a drunk driving crash in July 2013, Annie’s Law was introduced to the Ohio Legislature earlier this year. The proposed legislation would require first-time convicted DUI offenders to install a car breathalyzer, or ignition interlock device, in their vehicles as part of their sentencing. Ohio’s current DUI laws only require repeat offenders to install the device. First-time offenders are only required to install the device at the discretion of the judge.
After the recent changes, Annie’s Law would also require all DUI offenders to install a car breathalyzer while they are awaiting trial rather than waiting until they are convicted. Another change would allow a judge to require the device for drunk drivers who have received plea deals for lesser offenses if the judge thinks the offender is at risk of reoffending. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignition interlock use reduces rearrest rates for drunk driving by 67%.
If Annie’s Law passes, Ohio would join 22 other states in requiring in-car breathalyzers for all convicted DUI offenders. Such states have had a lot of success in reducing drunk driving fatalities. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), many states that have enacted an all-offender interlock law have decreased drunk driving deaths by at least 30%. Arizona and Oregon have reduced DUI fatalities by as much as 43% and 42%, respectively.