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.

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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.

July 4 is the most dangerous day of the year.

WASHINGTON — If you’re traveling this weekend, expect a lot of company. Nearly 42 million Americans plan to drive 50 miles or more from home — the most since before the Great Recession, finds AAA.

Drivers are urged to be careful. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Fourth of July is the most danger day of the year for drivers.

Annie Rooney was on her way home when she was hit and killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013
CBS News

Independence Day marks an all too painful anniversary for Walt Rooney. Two years ago his 36-year-old sister Annie — who used to prosecute DUI offenders — was on her way home when she was hit and killed by a drunk driver.

“Our Fourth of July is a visit to the cemetery and it’s horrific,” said Rooney. “It’s not a peaceful visit. It’s a traumatic, gut-wrenching visit to the cemetery. And it’s a horror that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”

IIHS found between 2009 and 2013 — the year Annie died — 612 people died in crashes on the Fourth of July, 42 percent involved a drunk driver.

“I think July the Fourth is a day of celebration that often involves alcohol,” said Anne McCartt, a senior vice president for IIHS. “I think people are just in a lighter mood, they may be more likely to have other people in the car, maybe not paying close attention.”

CBS News

The Maryland State Police is adding about 100 extra officers to patrol the roads this holiday weekend. Trooper Marcus Holland will be looking for distracted and drunk drivers.

“The fact is one drink is too much,” said Holland.

The troopers we talked to say they expect DUIs to start ramping up in the afternoon Saturday and continue well into the night. IIHS found July 3 through July 5 are all in the top 15 most deadly days on the road.

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This entry was posted on May 24, 2016.

Ohio Lawmakers pass Annie’s Law, approving special devices in cars of OVI offenders

Ohio Lawmakers pass Annie’s Law, approving special devices in cars of OVI offenders

Annie Rooney
Annie Rooney

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Annie Rooney was killed in a head-on crash by a drunk driver back on July 4, 2013.

Her father Richard said since that tragic day, hundreds more Ohioan’s have died in crashes involved with drivers under the influence. All the while the public has waited on the law to change.

annies3 Ohio Lawmakers pass Annies Law, approving special devices in cars of OVI offendersToday, state lawmakers voted to put ignition interlock devices in vehicles of those convicted of driving under the influence.

The Rooney family has waited nearly three years for “Annie’s Law,” a law that allows judges to force anyone convicted of drunk driving to use an in-car breathalyzer.

“Our family’s world changed forever when on that July night we were visited by two patrolmen,” said Rooney.

Over the last two years the Rooneys, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, (MADD) and several lawmakers have fought to get Annie’s Law on the books.

“The thing I regret the most when we didn’t get it passed in 2014 is we continue to lose lives,” Rooney said.

ignition Ohio Lawmakers pass Annies Law, approving special devices in cars of OVI offendersThis law will include drivers with a first-time OVI. The device’s maker, Smart Start of Ohio, demonstrated the built-in safeguards where the driver is required to take multiple tests after the vehicle has been started. Along with that, a camera and GPS are synced with the ignition interlock device, that take pictures of the driver and alerts authorities to the vehicle’s location.

“The one type of homicide that is 100 percent preventable is the crime of impaired driving,” said John DiPietro, MADD state chair.

Rooney said he’s been told the device is a punishment or shaming device, but said it’s not, it’s a safety device.

He said one day he’ll meet Annie in heaven and his family wants to reassure her she did not die in vain.

“What happened to me and what did you do about it? Well, what we did about it is Annie’s Law,” Rooney said.

House Bill sponsor Rep. Gary Scherer (R) said they hope to have the law on the governor’s desk by the end of the year.

This entry was posted on May 24, 2016.

House Bill 388 Passes Ohio House

COLUMBUS – Want to drive after a drunken driving offense? Just blow into this breath-testing device.

First-time offenders convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence could ask a judge to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles in exchange for a shorter driving suspension, under a proposal passed 84-5 by the Ohio House Wednesday.

Here’s how the device works: a driver exhales into it before starting the car. The vehicle won’t start if there is alcohol on the driver’s breath.

The bill, championed by Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, is called “Annie’s Law” for Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe lawyer killed in 2013 by a drunken driver. Her family first pushed for the change in 2014, but opposition from Ohio’s judges killed the bill.

“I wish we could have done it sooner. I wish the bill had even more teeth,” said Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott in Scioto County, a family friend of the Rooneys.

The new version is weaker than its predecessor, which would have required breath-test devices installed in every first-time offender’s car. Judges can already order ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders, like the driver who killed Rooney. But the proposal does provide incentives to drivers who seek out the option: judges could reduce offenders’ drivers license suspensions from one year to six months. The bill would increase possible driving suspensions from six months to three years to one year to five years.

Those caught driving impaired would pay for the device and its installation. Mothers Against Drunk Driving estimated the equipment costs between $70 and $150 to install and $60 to $80 per month to monitor and calibrate. Those too poor to pay would receive a reduced rate.

If passed, Ohio would become the 28th state to allow ignition interlock devices for first-time drunken drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports requiring interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers reduces repeat drunken driving by an average of 67 percent. Because the device would not be required in Ohio, any change would be less dramatic, but advocates say any increase in ignition interlock devices will help.

The bill would also eliminate yellow license plates, known as “party plates,” that certain convicted drivers were required to display. There was little evidence that the plates worked to deter drinking and driving, Scherer said.

Another change would extend the period of time that prosecutors examine to increase penalties for repeat drunken driving offenders from six years to 10 years. More than four convictions in that time period would mean an automatic felony.

The proposal heads to the Ohio Senate, which isn’t expected to vote on the bill until after the November election. Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, is working to get it passed before the end of of the year.

For the Rooney family, these changes are Annie’s legacy. She worked as a lawyer in the Cincinnati area and a prosecutor in Montana and Chillicothe before starting her own law practice. She painted, rode mountain bikes, herded bison and earned an award for “actress of the year” for performing in a high school play.

Her family believes that when they meet her in heaven, she will have two questions, her father, Dr. Richard Rooney, said Wednesday.

“We know that she will ask us, ‘What happened to me?’ and ‘What did you do about it?’ Well, what we did about it is Annie’s Law,” he said.

This entry was posted on May 24, 2016.