Ohio’s House Bill 388, also known as Annie’s Law, may change the game when it comes to OVI penalties for not only first time offenders but repeat OVI offenders. Under Ohio’s current OVI law, first time offenders charged with a simple OVI face the following mandatory minimum penalties: minimum of 3 days jail that must be served consecutively or a 72 hour Driver’s Intervention Program, $375 fine, and a six (6) month license suspension, with limited driving privileges after 15 days. Annie’s Law, which has passed the House and is currently before the Senate, would change that.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) statistics on OVI enforcement, the OSHP’s enforcement numbers alone for 2016 is at 11,816. OSHP’s enforcement numbers for the entire year of 2015 totaled 10,127. Annie’s Law seeks to deter drunk driving by educating offenders on the dangers of drunk driving and to closely monitor offenders’ alcohol consumption as they operate their vehicles during the pendency of their case and during the period of the court ordered license suspension.
Annie’s Law would allow courts to grant first time OVI offenders unlimited driving privileges during the pendency of their case and during the duration of the court ordered license suspension. Currently, offenders are only permitted limited driving privileges for occupational, education, medical, treatment, and court purposes with no ignition interlock device required for a first offense. Unlimited driving privileges means just that, offenders can drive anywhere at anytime.
So what’s the catch? If a court grants unlimited driving privileges, offenders must have an ignition interlock device, installed in their vehicles. The interlock device requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If the breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started. If a driver violates any term or condition of the unlimited driving privileges order, penalties can include an increased suspension term, imposition of a continuous alcohol monitor, or a delay in the license reinstatement.
In our experience, there just aren’t enough interlock device companies out there to install and monitor the devices. Our clients that are required to have the devices installed in their vehicles already have great difficulty finding a company to install the interlock device. This new change will certainly increase the demand for interlock devices. The question is, will the supply be able to keep up with the demand?
Annie’s law did not forget about repeat offenders. The new law would change the current look back period of six years to ten years. This new change creates a great deal of exposure for individuals who have been previously convicted of an OVI. If convicted a second time within ten years, an offender would be required to have restricted plates, also known as “party tags”, and an interlock device installed in their vehicle in order to drive. Additionally, the mandatory jail time for a second offense in ten years would remain ten consecutive days.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), states that have passed all-offender interlock laws have experienced up to a 50 percent decrease in drunk driving deaths, including neighboring state, West Virginia, which saw a 40 percent decrease. As House Bill 388 goes to the Senate for further consideration, we wait to see if Annie’s Law will soon take effect and change Ohio OVI law, as we know it.