About Annie

This site is dedicated to Annie Rooney, who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013 in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Annie, a graduate of Western Reserve Academy, Brown University, and the Lewis and Clark Law School, was just 36 years old.

Below is her obituary, followed by newspaper articles and links that look into the circumstances that permitted this catastrophe as well as information about “Annie’s Law”, Ohio House Bill 388.

Annie’s Obituary

Published on July 6, 2013:

Anna Louise Rooney

April 14, 1977 – July 4, 2013

Anna Louise Rooney, always known as Annie, of Chillicothe, Ohio was killed by a drunk driver on on July 4, 2013, at around 9pm.  Annie was travelling home after borrowing a bike for an upcoming race when an oncoming driver crossed into her lane on US Rte 50, just outside of Chillicothe.  Annie’s bikes had been stolen the previous weekend in Columbus, Ohio, outside German Village.

Annie was born in Chillicothe, Ohio on April 14, 1977 to Dr. Richard C. Rooney and Carole Mayer Rooney of Chillicothe, Ohio; Annie was 36 years old.  She graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio in 1995, where she was a star athlete. Annie graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1999 and the Law School of Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon in 2007.

Prior to returning home to Chillicothe, Annie was a prosecuting attorney in Bozeman, Montana, where she served her community by aggressively prosecuting domestic violence and DUI cases. She recently opened her own law practice in Chillicothe, Ohio.  A separate Montana memorial service was held for Annie  which can be read about below.

Annie was passionate about adventure and recently began a mountain bike racing career.  She traveled and lived all over the world, including every continent except Antarctica, which was on her list.   She also lived and worked in New York City and San Francisco on various start-up ventures.

Annie was beloved by many for her charm, her sense of humor, her courage, her unique ability to make others feel loved, and her generous smile. Her most memorable characteristic was her boundless energy with unending optimism.  Professionally Annie was a tireless advocate for crime victims and a very successful prosecutor.

Annie was an inspiration to all who knew her.  A recent quote captures her essence: “You wanted to be like her, but you couldn’t figure out how”.

She is survived by her parents, Dr. Richard and Carole Rooney of Chillicothe, Ohio, her sister Kate (Rooney) Lyaker (Dr. Michael Lyaker) of Columbus, Ohio, and her brothers Dr. Craig Rooney (Dr. Angie Song) and Dr. Walt Rooney (Adrienne) of Seattle, Washington, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Thank you all for being her friends.

Please share your photos and experiences of Annie so we will never forget how wonderful she was.

Her Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/annie.rooney.50

Annie Rooney

 Memorial contributions may be made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Rooney Family
Chillicothe, Ohio, 45601

This entry was posted on July 4, 2013.

Ohio Governor Kasich Signs Annie’s Law







, Reporter 10:08 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2017

COLUMBUS – U.S. Rep. Gary Scherer said he had tears in his eyes as a bill intended to decrease drunken driving made it through the final step when Gov. John Kasich signed it on Wednesday.

Scherer’s emotions are driven by the family Chillicothe attorney Annie Rooney left behind when she died after her SUV was struck by a drunken driver on July 4, 2013. Rooney’s family began advocating to strengthen the laws, targeting increased use of ignition interlock devices, within weeks of her death.

When the first attempt, which Scherer co-sponsored with Rooney family friend Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott in Scioto County, failed, Scherer re-introduced it and negotiated tweaks to get it passed. Sens. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, and Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, championed the bill to garner passage in the final days of session last month.

“I didn’t know Annie personally, but through her friends and her wonderful family, I feel as if I do,” Scherer said. “I am pleased to help them make something positive come out of Annie’s tragedy. This law will save lives, and what a tribute to the life of Annie Rooney that is.”

The initial bill required judges to have ignition interlock devices installed in every first-time offender’s car. Vehicles with the device are unable to start unless a breath test is passed. The judicial conference bucked the initial bill because it created a mandate for judges who rather have the ability to use discretion in sentencing based on each case.

While judges can already order the device for repeat offenders, the new law – which will take effect April 4 – incentivizes judges and offenders to use the device by allowing offenders unlimited driving privileges in a vehicle outfitted with an ignition interlock. The bill also extends the amount of time examined to increase penalties for repeat offenders from six years to 10.

Judges also will be able to cut a one-to-three-year driver’s license suspension in half if they order a defendant to use an interlock device.

MADD also widely supported the law as part of ongoing top lobbying efforts to improve ignition interlock laws in every state.

“MADD is grateful to Governor Kasich and the dedicated legislators who share our mission to eliminate this 100 percent preventable crime,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church in a news release. “Many lives will be saved as Ohio increases the number ignition interlocks used by drunk driving offenders.”

According to MADD, states with the strongest ignition interlock laws, such as West Virginia and New Mexico which require them for all drunk driving offenders, have seen reductions in drunk driving deaths of 50 and 38 percent, respectively.


This entry was posted on January 5, 2017.

On to the Ohio Governor


Click Link for Video:


A proposed Ohio law requiring OVI offenders to pass a Breathalyzer before driving is moving forward.



The state Senate Tuesday unanimously approved Annie’s Law.

Lawmakers named the bill after Annie Rooney, who died in a drunken driving crash on the Fourth of July 2013.

The driver who hit Rooney was a repeat offender, with a blood alcohol content more than two times the legal limit.

“I think the easy thing to do when a tragedy occurs is to grieve and crawl into a hole. This family, and so many courageous other ones, have decided that they’re going to take that tragedy and try to help other people,” Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-District 31, said.

Annie’s Law will put ignition interlocks in the cars of first-time OVI offenders.

Rooney’s family and the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving were present for Tuesday’s state Senate hearing.

“Annie was our Annie, but everybody has an Annie,” her brother, Walt Rooney said. “This law isn’t for my sister. It’s too late for her, but what we feel for Annie is exactly what you feel for your loved ones.”

Rooney told WLWT his sister was a successful Ross County prosecuting attorney who convicted offenders in several drunken driving cases.

“This is not a rare occurrence,” Rooney said. “These are 100 percent preventable crimes and they’re killing 400 to 500 Ohioans every single year.”

Rooney wants the ignition interlock on every car on the road and is confident requiring it for first-time OVI offenders will save lives.

“This is a public health policy. This isn’t shaming. This isn’t punitive,” Rooney said. “This is to protect all of us, who are driving to the store, driving our kids to school and want the person in the lane opposite you not to be drunk.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is scheduled to sign the bill into law by the end of the year.

This entry was posted on December 7, 2016.

Ohio Senate passes ‘Annie’s Law’ to strengthen Ohio drunk driving laws

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A southern Ohio family is getting closure more than three years after their loved one was hit and killed in a drunk driving accident. Annie Rooney was an attorney from Chillicothe who died on July 4th 2013.  Her family has lobbied to strengthen Ohio OVI laws for years and their bill, honoring Annie, was passed the Ohio Senate Tuesday afternoon.

Annie’s sister Kate Lyaker says, “On the surface she was hilarious. She was a comedian But, if you really got to know her she really cared a lot about her friends and the people she was representing.”

Tragedy struck the Rooney family. Their loved one, Annie, was taken from them in an instant.  Annie left loved ones, clients, and her mark on a community behind.

Lyaker adds, “My sister was a prosecutor, and I myself was a prosecutor of DUIs. I never imagined this would affect my family.”

The Rooney family converted their sorrow into action and today, that action turned into results.

Annie’s Father Richard Rooney says, “Now it is done. We can go forward and there won’t be anymore lives needlessly lost.”

Annie’s law has passed the Ohio State House and Senate. In the past OVI offenders had their driver’s license suspended.  About 75% of offenders ignored those restrictions.  They drove anyway.

Annie’s law allows offenders to forgo driving suspensions if they use an ignition interlock instead.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving national president Colleen Sheehey-Church explains, “You learn to blow in the device itself. If you pass, the car will start. If it detects any amount of alcohol, it will not start the car.”

Sheehey-Church says Ohio will now be the 29th state that gives OVI offenders the opportunity to use the ignition interlock device instead of suspending the offender’s license. Lyaker says neighboring states like Kentucky and West Virginia have already enacted similar laws and have seen their OVI deaths cut in half.

Annie’s Law has now cleared the both chambers and awaits Ohio Governor John Kasich’s signature before the bill can become law.

This entry was posted on December 6, 2016.

Annie’s Law passes Senate, heads to governor

, USA Today Network-Ohio

December 6, 2016.

CHILLICOTHE – More than three years after a Chillicothe woman’s death, her family’s fight to strengthen Ohio’s drunken driving laws has been successful.

Tuesday was a busy day for Annie’s law, which started off Tuesday by being voted out of the Senate insurance committee and then went before the full Senate where it received unanimous approval after support voiced by both Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, and Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Washington Court House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, then bounced back the House for a small amendment, which was approved early Tuesday evening.

The bill is named for Annie Rooney, a 36-year-old attorney who was killed when a repeat drunk driver crashed head-on into her vehicle on July 4, 2013. Within a week of Rooney’s death, her siblings Kate Rooney Lyaker and Walt Rooney had committed to doing whatever they could to prevent a similar death by a repeat drunk driving offender. Naturally, her parents, Dr. Richard Rooney and Carole Rooney also have advocated for strengthening the law.

“It’s definitely the most emotional moment I’ve had in four years of serving,” Scherer said of the bill’s passage, noting the presence of the Rooneys in the statehouse on Tuesday and National MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “It is the culmination of three years of perseverance by the Rooney family.”

The bill passed Tuesday was the second attempt, the first of which was sponsored by Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott in Scioto County, a family friend of the Rooneys, and required judges to have ignition interlock devices installed in every first-time offender’s car. Vehicles with the device are unable to start unless a breath test is passed. The judicial conference bucked the initial bill because it created a mandate for judges who rather have the ability to use discretion in sentencing based on each case.

While judges can already order the device for repeat offenders, the bill incentivizes judges and offenders to use the device by allowing offenders unlimited driving privileges in a vehicle outfitted with an ignition interlock. The bill also extends the amount of time examined to increase penalties for repeat offenders from six years to 10.

The final tweak to the bill by the Senate related to the driver’s license suspension. The initial version would have changed the driver’s license suspension from six months to three years to one to five years, but the Senate tweaked it to be one to three years. Judges would be able to cut the suspension in half if they order a defendant to use an interlock device.

“Annie’s Law provides a new incentive for more drunk drivers to use the technology that we know reduces repeat offenses by up to 67 percent,” said Sheehey-Church in a news release. “I am humbled by the Rooney family and their tireless work to pass this law to honor the memory of their daughter and sister Annie. They have worked alongside a dedicated team of MADD volunteers and MADD Ohio staff. MADD thanks, Representative Scherer, Senator Peterson and Senator Hottinger for their commitment to the safety of all Ohioans.”

Rick Rooney, who along with his son Walt also expressed appreciation to legislators, feels the passage does a “great deal” for helping him and the rest of the family with their grieving Annie’s death. As they faced obstacles in the process, Rooney said he’d often sit in Annie’s room or at her grave and talk to her, waiting for an answer on whether to keep fighting.

“This brings me a lot of closer to closure because she’s been with us the whole way. This is what she would’ve done,” he said, adding he thinks she’d be proud of them.

The bill now makes its way to Gov. John Kasich who Scherer expects will sign the bill into law.

link: http://www.chillicothegazette.com/story/news/local/2016/12/06/annies-law-passes-senate-heads-governor/95048292/

This entry was posted on December 6, 2016.

December 6th, Ohio Statehouse Press Conference



Dec. 2, 2016


MADD National President To Testify in Support of “Annie’s Law”

Family of Annie Rooney, MADD Volunteers Call on Legislature

To Pass Drunk Driving Law before Thursday Deadline


WHAT:   Colleen Sheehey-Church, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) will be at the Capitol on Tuesday to urge the Senate to pass HB 388 “Annie’s Law” to stop the completely preventable drunk driving tragedies in Ohio. MADD’s National President, Annie Rooney’s family and volunteers will attend a 10:30 a.m. Insurance Committee hearing on Tuesday, December 6th, and hold a media availability immediately after the hearing.


Following the Senate Insurance Committee hearing, it is imperative that the Senate and House both move quickly to pass this final version of the legislation before December 8. These votes could take place as soon as Dec. 6.


Annie’s law was endorsed by The Columbus Dispatch in November: “As lawmakers scramble to enact legislation in the final hours of the 131st General Assembly, they should prioritize and pass “Annie’s Law.” Few other bills could do more to protect Ohioans and save lives.”


WHEN:          Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 a.m. (hearing with press conference to follow)


WHERE:       South Hearing Room


WHO:            Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD National President

Dr. Richard Rooney, father of Annie Rooney

                       Kate Lyaker, sister of Annie Rooney

Dr. Walt Rooney, brother of Annie Rooney

                       Andie Rehkamp, Vice Chair of Public Policy, MADD Ohio

Senator Jay Hottinger

                        Senator Bob Peterson

Representative Gary Scherer



WHY: On July 4, 2013, Annie Rooney was killed when a repeat drunk driver hit Annie’s car head-on along Route 50 near Chillicothe. Annie, 36, had recently opened her own law practice in Chillicothe after moving home from Bozeman, Montana, where she served her community by aggressively prosecuting domestic violence and DUI cases. HB 388 is named “Annie’s Law” in honor of Anna Louise Rooney.


Ignition interlocks save lives by preventing repeat drunk driving offenses. Since Ohio began allowing judges to order ignition interlocks in 2008, these devices have stopped more than 108,000 attempts to drink and drive. Of those, 16,641 drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, the legal threshold for impaired driving in all 50 states. Even more potential drunk drivers would be stopped — and more lives would be saved — if Ohio strengthened its ignition interlock law by passing Annie’s Law.

VISUALS: Demonstration of an ignition interlock


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT: Becky Iannotta (202) 600-2032 or becky.iannotta@madd.org


About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. Learn more at http://www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

This entry was posted on December 1, 2016.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016.  5:01 AM.

As lawmakers scramble to enact legislation in the final hours of the 131st General Assembly, they should prioritize and pass “Annie’s Law.” Few other bills could do more to protect Ohioans and save lives.

House Bill 388, named for Annie Rooney, an accomplished young woman killed by a drunken driver with at least three prior convictions, gives judges a stronger tool to keep impaired drivers off the road while maintaining judges’ discretion.

Currently first-time offenders may be granted limited driving privileges to go to work or school, for instance. They are prohibited from driving anywhere outside those restrictions. But many cheat: 50 percent to 75 percent of convicted drunken drivers continue to drive on suspended licenses, federal research shows. Add to this that most first-time offenders have driven drunk at least 80 times before they are caught, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and it helps explain why a third of first-time offenders repeat the offense.

So what if courts had a way to make offenders, themselves, want to stay sober behind the wheel — or track those who did not and not let them drive unmonitored again until proof existed that they’d changed their ways?

Annie’s Law does just that.

The bill, passed 87-6 by the House in May, would give judges the discretion to grant someone convicted of drunken driving full driving privileges if the offender petitions to have an ignition interlock installed on his vehicle. These devices require the driver to breathe into an alcohol sensor before trying to start the car. If the sensor detects alcohol, the car won’t start.

The incentive for offenders to request this device is two-fold: They wouldn’t face limited driving privileges, which are so ignored as to be useless. And those complying with the use of the device could reduce their suspended-driving period by half.

But there’s a catch: The device’s data will be tracked and drivers must have a clean record for the last 60 days of their suspension or face a 60-day extension.

Annie’s family, MADD and a large coalition of public safety and health groups have worked tirelessly to pass this measure, which has been amended to address judges’ concerns about retaining their discretion to mete out shorter sentences — or provide them with options for longer ones.

The resulting bill is a reasonable compromise. As for the issue of cost, the monitoring would cost the offender $2.50 to $3 a day, or about $500 for six months. Considering that a drunken-driving offense typically costs an offender $10,000 — including attorney fees, higher insurance costs and fines — this seems a small expense to protect public safety.

These devices work: Compared with license suspension alone, interlocks reduce repeat offenses by 67 percent while the device is installed — and 39 percent even after it’s removed, according to MADD. They change behavior.

This is important because the woman who hit Annie Rooney in 2013 had at least three prior impaired-driving offenses. Annie, a Chillicothe native, was just 36.

And ignition interlocks aren’t experimental. They’re routinely ordered in Ohio for repeat offenders, preventing by one estimate more than 121,000 car starts by drunken drivers since 2008.

In Ohio last year, 401 people were killed by impaired driving. Imagine the number of lives that Annie’s Law could save.

Further, MADD notes that 28 states already have similar or stronger bills than Annie’s Law and that Ohio’s drunken-driving laws have not had a serious upgrade since 2008. This legislation is very much overdue.

This entry was posted on December 1, 2016.

Annie’s Law Passes Ohio House


Legislation To Reduce Repeat OVIs Passes Ohio House

HB 388 increases the use of in-car breathalyzers for OVI offenses
Posted May 18, 2016 by Majority Caucus

The Ohio House today passed House Bill 388, which allows judges to grant the use of ignition interlock for individuals on their first OVI offense. This legislation, sponsored by State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), is also known as “Annie’s Law,” named after Scherer’s constituent, Annie Rooney, who at age 36 lost her life to a drunk driver in 2013.


“Annie’s Law” allows a first time OVI offender to petition the court for unlimited driving privileges with a certified ignition interlock device, or IID, during the period of the offender’s driver’s license suspension. Current law allows OVI offenders serving a license suspension to have restricted driving privileges to commute to work and school, a penalty that is difficult to enforce and, according to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is violated by 50 to 75 percent of offenders.


The IID technology proposed in HB 388 requires the driver to blow into a breathalyzer device to start the vehicle, which helps make sure they are not intoxicated before driving the car. “Annie’s Law” will provide OVI offenders with unlimited driving privileges, but will more effectively prevent that individual from getting behind the wheel while drunk again.


“This legislation will help make Ohio’s roadways safer by ensuring that offenders with an IID can no longer operate their vehicle while under the influence,” Scherer said. “The bottom line is that ignition interlock is proven to save lives and we need to start utilizing it more to protect innocent lives like Annie’s.”


Annie Rooney was a lawyer from the Chillicothe area and was killed on July 4, 2013 on her way home from borrowing her friend’s bike for an upcoming race. Annie died after being struck by another driver who veered across the center line on US-50 outside Chillicothe. The driver of that vehicle had previously been arrested five times for driving drunk.


According to 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.


House Bill 388 does not change the current discretion judges have in ordering interlocks, but it does set up a framework to allow judges to order interlocks more often, which MADD believes is a step in the right direction.


“Ohio needs Annie’s Law so more offenders utilize interlocks over a license suspension”, said Doug Scoles, MADD Ohio State Executive Director. “Interlocks accomplish what license suspensions alone cannot. They teach sober driving behavior while protecting the public.”


House Bill 388 will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.


This entry was posted on September 8, 2016.

Ohio House Bill 388 (Annie’s Law) Passes House


COLUMBUS —A new law, approved by Ohio House lawmakers this week, aims to stop DUI offenders from getting behind the wheel drunk and putting lives in danger on the road.

The law is called “Annie’s Law.”

Annie Rooney was hit and killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013,  in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Watch this story

The driver’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and the driver had been arrested five times before for drunk driving.

Walt Rooney he will never forget the accident that killed his sister.

“This person was driving 80 miles an hour with no lights at dusk,” he said. “There are no skid marks after she veered into my sister’s lane.”

Walt Rooney said he and his family have worked three years to pass Annie’s Law. He said he was at the Statehouse Thursday when the bill bearing his sister’s name passed the Ohio House. If passed by the Ohio Senate, Annie’s Law would require ignition interlock devices in vehicles owned by DUI offenders, meaning a driver has to pass a Breathalyzer test to drive.

It also includes a camera to record who is using the Breathalyzer and a GPS system to track the car.

Walt Rooney said the work has been worthwhile.

“This is going to save lives,” he said. “We’re going to keep pushing. We’ve met with Gov. Kasich (and) he is in favor of our law.”

Rooney’s family said they want to make sure their daughter didn’t die in vain, and said their mission is all about safety.

David Lewis at LifeSafer in Blue Ash said he and his company are partners in the work to keep Ohio motorists safe. LifeSafer manufactures the interlock devices which disable the ignition systems of cars of drivers that traces of alcohol in their system.

“With Annie’s Law, all OVI offenders will be enabled to have an interlock ignition device and drive during their suspension period. That will make the roads safer for all of us,” Lewis said.

Annie’s Law could be passed in the Senate latter this summer and signed by Gov. John Kasich in the fall.

This entry was posted on May 24, 2016.