Annie's Law Aims To Limit Drunk Driving Deaths In Ohio

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UPDATED: Tuesday March 4, 2014 6:57 PM

Legislation is moving forward that supporters say could drastically cut the number of drunk driving deaths in the state of Ohio.

It's called Annie's Law, named after a young, local attorney who was tragically killed by a drunk driver last July.

“That's what really the thrust and purpose of our efforts are - to stop the killing and stop the dying," said Rick Rooney, Annie’s father.

The Rooney family does not want any other family to live through their nightmare of last July.

Annie Rooney was struck and killed by a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Her father says writing Annie's Law is the best way to memorialize his daughter.

"We believe that this law is not a radical change but a furtherance of activities that will help minimize the risk, and we believe will save, just in the state of Ohio, 50 to 100 lives a year," Rooney said.

The legislation centers on the use of the ignition interlock breathalyzer device. An equipped vehicle won't start if the blood alcohol content is above the legal limit after the person blows into the device.

Current law allows a judge to require a first time offender convicted of drunk driving to use the device, but this bill would make it mandatory.

The legislation would also give the judge discretion to require the device even for someone arrested for d-u-i.

“It just seems like the right thing to do," said State Representative Gary Scherer, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "The sooner we get it into law the better, so we can start saving lives."

"This is nothing draconian, but it is I think a significant advance as a safety device, for the public and the drivers themselves," added Rooney.

An appeal for additional sponsors for Annie's Law is already circulating through the statehouse. Sponsors hope to have the bill assigned to a committee by next week, with final passage by the end of the legislative session.

Thirty-six states already have legislation that requires the use of ignition interlock devices on the first d-u-i conviction.

Besides saving lives, the Center for Disease Control says the devices have also helped reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.

 

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