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Ohio Senate votes unanimously to pass Annie's Law

The Ohio Senate voted unanimously to support Annie's Law on Dec. 6. The law seeks to reduce the number of drunk driving injuries and fatalities by requiring those convicted of driving under the influence to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. It had already cleared the House, and it has now been sent to Ohio Gov. John Kasich to be signed into law. Kasich is expected to sign the bill before the end of the year.

The law is named after a Chillicothe prosecutor who lost her life in a drunk driving accident in July 2013. The intoxicated driver involved was a repeat offender with a blood alcohol level of more than twice the .08 percent legal limit in Ohio. Under current laws, the driver's licenses of those convicted of drunk driving for the first time are suspended, but studies indicate that three out of four of these offenders ignore these restrictions and drive anyway.

Ignition interlock devices prevent vehicles from starting when even trace amounts of alcohol are detected in the breath of drivers. The technology works in a similar way to the roadside breath tests administered by police in suspected drunk driving situations. Experts say that the latest ignition interlock devices are so sophisticated that they can identify the breath of a particular individual.

Criminal defense attorneys may welcome legislation designed to protect road users. However, they may harbor concerns about the reliability of ignition interlock devices and the costs involved in installing and monitoring them. Drunk driving cases often hinge on the results of breath tests, which may not be accurate if the equipment used has not been properly maintained or the individual being tested suffers from certain medical conditions.

Source: WLWT 5 Cincinnati, 'Annie's Law,' requiring Ohio OVI offenders to pass breathalyzer, heads to governor's desk, Emily Wood, Dec. 17, 2016

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