Preventing OVI Offenders From Endangering Lives On Ohio's Roadways
A Guest Column by State Senator Jay Hottinger
December 13, 2016
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Drunk driving remains a major hazard on Ohio’s roadways. Motorists who chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol claimed the lives of more than 350 Ohioans last year. The decision to drink and drive is senseless and inexcusable.

To combat this problem, a growing number of states have enacted laws requiring or incentivizing first-time OVI offenders to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Similar to a breathalyzer, these devices that can utilize DNA and facial recognition software will prevent a driver from starting a vehicle if any amount of alcohol is detected. Ignition interlock technology and legislation allowing their use has gained the support of numerous organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  

Ohio’s ignition interlock legislation was named "Annie’s Law" in memory of Annie Rooney, who lost her life in an accident caused by a repeat drunk driver. As chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, I heard heart wrenching testimony from the father of Annie Rooney as well as testimony showing a sharp decrease in the number of drunk driving deaths in states where ignition interlocks requirements have been implemented. 

After listening to so many tragic stories from Ohioans who had lost loved ones, it was evident that Ohio must do more to prevent drunk driving related deaths. Simply put, this legislation will save lives. 

Annie's Law passed out of Senate Insurance Committee unanimously after I called it for a vote, and both the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House passed Annie’s Law with overwhelming majorities. 

Using technology to make Ohio’s roadways safer is important and ignition interlocks are one tool that can help protect Ohio families from intoxicated motorist, so I am proud to have worked on this legislation. However, the successful passage of Annie’s Law would not have happened without the tireless efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the bill’s sponsor Representative Gary Scherer, Senator Bob Peterson, Nationwide Insurance, and the entire Rooney family. The courage that the Rooney family displayed after such a tragic event was astounding and it is because of their remarkable efforts that Ohio roads will now be safer for all Ohioans.

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