In December 2017, Ohio’s state senate passed House Bill 388, known as “Annie’s Law," in re-sponse to the 2013 death of 36-year-old attorney Annie Rooney of Chillicothe, Ohio. Rooney was killed on July 4th when a repeat drunk driving offender crossed lanes on US 50, hitting Rooney’s SUV. HB 388 officially went into effect on April 16, making significant changes to Ohio's existing operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OVI) laws.
Unlike past legislation, Annie’s Law actively champions the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs), or car breathalyzers, to facilitate the safe and dignified rehabilitation of first-, second-, and third-time offenders. The law also lengthens look back periods and potential license suspensions for all offenders.
What the Law Means for OVI Offenders
Look Back Period
A look back period constitutes the amount of time judges look back upon when sentencing OVI offenders. Before Annie’s Law, only arrests occurring 6 years prior could count against defendants during the sentencing process. Now, judges must sentence all defendants based on offenses com-mitted up to 10 years ago. This means that a newly arrested individual who committed an offense 7 years prior would face the same penalties as a second-time offender. Under the old law, with a look back period of 6 years, the court would not sentence the defendant based on this past offense.
License Suspensions and Restrictions (First-Time Offenders)
Previously, Ohio’s OVI laws mandated the suspension of offenders’ licenses for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 3 years. Restricted driving privileges were available but limited. Under the new law, the court must implement a 1-year suspension—unless the offender elects to drive a vehicle equipped with a certified IID. As long as IID users test negative for alcohol, do not tamper with the device, or drive a car without an IID, they will enjoy unlimited, 24/7 driving privileges and a 6-month suspension, not a year-long one. Negative tests may also absolve offenders of all jail time, while positive tests will require them to serve out the suspended time of 3 days or longer.
License Suspensions and Restrictions (Second-Time Offenders)
The old OVI laws required second-time offenders to observe a 90-day period of immobilization, with a minimum suspension of 1 year and a maximum suspension of 5 years. Annie’s Law man-dates that offenders use an IID to attain any driving privileges. Under the new law, the maximum suspension is 7 years, but the initial 1-year suspension can be cut in half if offenders maintain negative alcohol levels during IID testing and refrain from committing other IID violations.
License Suspensions and Restrictions (Third-Time Offenders)
Though Annie’s Law mandates a 2-year minimum suspension and a 12-year maximum suspension for third-time offenders, using an IID without any violations can decrease the initial suspension time by half.
Benefits of IID Violation Laws Outweigh Adversities
Before Annie’s Law, Ohio judges determined whether or not offenders should use IIDs on a case by case basis. As it now stands, IIDs have become a heavily incentivized and integral part of Ohio’s OVI laws. Though the device is expensive, defendants lacking funds can apply for indigent status and receive the device free of charge. According to MADD, Americans share the roadways with over 2 million drunk drivers, holding three or more prior convictions, per day. Laws that in-clude IIDs will, doubtless, save lives.