Supporters of a law that would allow Ohio judges to order ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of first time DUI offenders are hoping lawmakers will consider the bill before the end of the year.
"Annie's Law" is named after Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe woman who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013. "Our lives have been shattered and altered forever by the senseless, preventable killing of our daughter by a drunk driver," said Richard Rooney, Annie's father.
Currently, Ohio law only allows the devices on the vehicles of those with three or more DUI convictions.
The bill's co-sponsor, State Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), hopes the bill gets a vote before the current General Assembly wraps up business for the year. So far it has received four hearings in a House committee. He believes it would cut down on the number of impaired drivers on the road, but admits it's no magic bullet.
"If you're looking at this device, if you're looking for this bill to get 100 percent of the drunk drivers....we're not going to do that," he said.
State Representative Gary Scherer is also a co-sponsor of the bill.
Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the NTSB, says that if ignition interlocks were used on one-time offenders it could save an estimated 1,100 lives each year nationwide.
Supporters pointed to a chart that shows that as the use of the devices increase, the number of drunk driving-related deaths has decreased.
"Today we have reached 24 states that have passed legislation similar to Annie's Law," said Doug Scoles, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio.
If lawmakers don't act before the current session ends, the bill will have to be re-introduced again next year.
"As we mark the one year anniversary of Annie’s death we are hopeful that lawmakers will take action and advance Annie’s Law. Our family has been laser focused on preventing another family from going through this senseless, preventable, loss of life on our roads shortly after Annie’s death," said Rooney.
Incentive grant dollars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration may be available to help defray any costs to the state in administrating the program. Ohio could receive approximately $688,000 annually with the passage of Annie’s Law.
Each device costs about $80 to $100 each month and is paid for by the offender.
Johnson says not only would it help take dangerous drivers off the road, but it would also allow offenders to drive legally right away so they could more easily get on with their lives after a conviction.