When the Ohio Senate reconvenes after its summer recess, one of its easiest votes should be to affirm its version of an Ohio House approved Bill 388, known as Annie's Law, and send it to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.
The law would give judges the option of granting full driving privileges to first-time offenders of drunken driving laws provided the motorist installs an ignition interlock on his or her vehicle. Ignition interlocks require drivers to breathe into alcohol sensors before starting their cars. If alcohol is discerned to be on the driver's breath, the car will not start.
Ignition interlocks are often ordered for repeat offenders and are said to reduce the number of DUI offenders significantly. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one study indicates more than 120,000 car starts have been prevented because of ignition interlocks.
Some 26 states require the use of ignition interlocks for first-time offenders who refused a chemical test and seek driving privileges during a license suspension period. Some states require their installation upon arrest or upon conviction. Ohio's neighbor to the east, Pennsylvania has just recently approved the ignition interlock option. West Virginia provides the option upon first-time arrest.
The proposed law is named for Anna Rooney, a native of Chillicothe, who graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson in 1995 and after obtaining her bachelor's degree from Brown, went on to gain her law degree from the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.
A stellar athlete who was preparing for an upcoming race, she was killed July 4, 2013, when riding a bicycle in the evening on U.S. Route 50 near Chillicothe when a drunk driver crossed into her lane. Her father, Dr. Richard Rooney, has spoken in favor of the ignition interlock bill before the Ohio House.
Most states that have passed ignition interlock laws, optional for first-time offenders, have included a mechanism to fund the devices in instances where the driver can demonstrate he cannot afford one. That is a feature that should be included in Annie's Law.