Sponsor Testimony to the Ohio House of Representatives Judiciary Committee

21 March, 2014

Yesterday, Wednesday 19 March 2014, I was delighted to give sponsor testimony before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee on what I hope will someday soon be known as Annie’s Law. Here is the testimony that I provided:

Chairman Butler, Vice-Chair Pelanda, Ranking Member Stinziano, and members of the House Judiciary Committee: thank you for the opportunity to present sponsor testimony on House Bill 469, Annie’s Law. Annie’s Law requires that first time OVI offenders be required to use an ignition interlock device for the 6 month period of their suspension. Under current law this is permissive; the sentencing judge may require the offender to use the ignition interlock device (IID) if he or she deems it appropriate. Under this bill, all offenders will be using this device. Once they are arrested and charged, they will be required to use the IID in order to legally drive. This will be in effect throughout their trial, and if convicted, they will have to continue to use the IID throughout their suspension.

Part of the reason we introduced this bill is because we do not believe enough first time offenders are required to use this device. According to the Newark Advocate, in 2013, the Ohio Highway Patrol cited more than 24,000 people with operating a vehicle while under the influence, but only 2,407 people were using ignition interlock devices in July. Frankly, this is far too few. In December of 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states “require ignition interlocks for all DWI offenders.” They also cited that only one in four offenders have one installed. On top of that, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, between 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. We need to do something about this.

Annie Rooney

Our current laws contain an ineffective system of limited driving privileges. The offender first has a period of 15 days where he or she cannot drive at all. Then he or she can obtain limited driving privileges from the judge to go to certain places such as class, work, and doctor’s appointments but only at certain times. There is nothing to ensure compliance and nothing to ensure sobriety unless they happen to get caught again. By contrast, the Center for Disease Control found that ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent. House Bill 469 will eliminate the 15 day hard suspension and replace the needlessly complex and unenforceable system of regulating who can drive when and where by implementing a simpler system where an offender can drive anywhere anytime so long as they use the IID. This allows the offender to continue working and to minimize disruption to his life while ensuring public safety to the extent that we are reasonably able to do so. In short, it’s the best of both worlds.

This bill is dedicated to a wonderful young lady who was taken from us far too soon. Annie Rooney was the model citizen; she graduated from Brown University before going to law school. She then was a prosecuting attorney in Bozeman, Montana where she aggressively prosecuted domestic violence while serving as the Assistant Music Director for a local radio station. She then moved back to her hometown of Chillicothe to open her own law practice. She was killed by a drunk driver on July 5th of last year. Since then, her family has worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in their cause to reduce the number of casualties to this horrible tragedy that occurs far too often. This issue is the most glaringly needed change to Ohio’s OVI laws which is why this effort and this bill is in her honor and her memory. We would ask you all for your support.

Once again, Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of Annie’s Law, HB 469. We would be happy to answer any questions.

Link to article: http://www.terryforohio.com/terrys-sponsor-testimony-for-annies-law/

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