Changes would expand breath-testing device in vehiclesBy Jessie Balmert
June 4, 2014
Gannett News Service
Changes to a bill that would require breath-testing devices on certain drunken drivers’ vehicles made the proposal more strict but also delayed a vote until after the Nov. 4 election.
As introduced earlier this year, the bill would require ignition interlock devices be installed for first-time operating a vehicle while under the influence offenders. The devices require drivers to blow into a breath-tester, which calculates blood-alcohol concentration, and will prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver tests higher than the preset limit, usually 0.025.
People using ignition interlock devices were about 67 percent less likely to be rearrested than drivers with suspended licenses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of 15 studies.
The devices are a deterrent for the more than 50 percent of convicted drunken drivers who continue to drive even with suspended licenses, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Current state law requires devices be installed for repeat drunken drivers. If approved, the bill would bring Ohio’s law in line with 22 other states, according to MADD.
Changes approved by committee Tuesday would require ignition interlock devices for people arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence while they await trial. A judge also could request a device for people who received plea deals for lesser offenses, such as reckless operation, if the judge believed the person would be at risk of another operating a vehicle while under the influence charge.
The judiciary committee accepted the changes Tuesday but will not vote on the bill before the Ohio House of Representatives’ summer break, said Steven Alexander, legislative aide for the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott. That means the bill won’t see action until after the Nov. 4 election.
The proposed legislation is called Annie’s Law in memory of 36-year-old Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe attorney who died after a head-on collision with a drunken driver on July 4, 2013. The drunken driver, Shira Seymour, was sentenced to the maximum eight years in prison for Rooney’s death.
Link to Mothers Against Drunk Driving: MADD: http://www.madd.org/