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Annie’s Law made dramatic changes to OVI laws in Ohio

Ohio House Bill 388, frequently referred to as Annie’s Law, became effective on April 6, 2017. The law made several important changes to our drinking-and-driving laws.

For first offenders convicted of OVI, the changes include reinstatement of suspended driving privileges with the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Previous versus current law

Before Annie’s Law went into effect, the minimum driver’s license suspension period for first OVI offenders was six months. It is now 12 months. Formerly, a first offender could obtain restricted driving privileges, but under Annie’s Law, the court may grant a request for the installation of an ignition interlock device, which would enable the driver to have unrestricted driving privileges.

About the IID

The ignition interlock device is basically a small computer about the size of a mobile phone, which attaches to the wiring of a vehicle. The driver must breathe into the mouthpiece of the device and the IID will record the body’s blood alcohol concentration level. If there is no alcohol present in the driver’s system, the car will start. Otherwise, the driver must wait for the alcohol level to return to zero and test again. Because this device has proven very successful in keeping drunk drivers off the road, the use of the IID also allows a judge to cut the one-year license suspension period in half.

Suspended jail time

Before the passage of Annie’s Law, a first OVI offender had to serve either three or six days in jail, as long as he or she did not have a prior OVI conviction within the past six years. Installation of the ignition interlock device suspends the jail time penalty unless there is an IID violation, such as a driver trying to circumvent the device, in which case the court must order the previously suspended time behind bars.

Next steps

While Annie’s Law has strengthened OVI laws in Ohio, it is also true that not all drivers arrested on suspicion of OVI are guilty. Procedural mistakes can happen, and testing equipment can malfunction. When facing charges for OVI, the best course of action is to seek professional help to work toward a favorable outcome.

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