Annie's Law in Ohio

On April 6th of 2017 Annie’s law went into effect. Ohio House Bill 388, known as Annie’s Law, was named for a Chillicothe attorney Annie Rooney, who was killed by a multiple prior OVI offender in an automobile accident on US 50. She was a criminal defense attorney who handled many OVI cases. The law has made drastic changes to Ohio’s drinking and driving laws. Historically, Ohio has mandatory penalties for OVI offenders and bases the mandatory minimum penalties by the number of times someone has been convicted of OVI. The main changes involve the “lookback” rule, driving privileges during an OVI suspension, and the mandatory 3-day sentence.

Annie's Law Changes Ohio DUI/OVI Law

Generally, under the prior law, when someone gets stopped for an OVI they are asked to take a breath test. If they refuse the test or they fail the test (result over .08 for a low tier and .017 for a high tier) their license will be suspended. Once the matter is assigned to a judge, and after a certain period of time has passed (depending on the level of the offense), the suspended person can ask for privileges to drive to work, school and other necessities. The privileges would be limited to specific hours each day and designated days during the week. Here are the major changes.

Under the new law, if a person agrees to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car, there would be “unlimited” privileges. This type of devise is a hand held breathalyzer that is installed directly into your vehicle. It comes in all different sizes but is generally the size of a television remote. It is compromised of a hand held unit, mouthpiece, relay cord connecting the device to your vehicle, and a camera unit. Once the unit is installed, the person is required to breath into the devise. If the sample is clear. The car will start. If the sample contains any alcohol, the car cannot be started. Often times there are false positive indications which hamper the starting of the vehicle.

There are pros and cons to this change. As to pro, the main change allows driving all the time. In addition, if the person agrees to the interlock system, the 3-day mandatory jail time on a first offense is waived. The 6-day mandatory jail time is also waived on the first in 10 years and either a high test or refusal with prior in 20 years. There would be no costs for attending the DIP (Driver Intervention Program. That program can cost up to $400.00. The court may also reduce the license suspension by 50% if the person elects to get the interlock. It does, however, create a new violation called an “IID VIOLATION” if the person violates the use of the devise. Additionally, the person must get a new special driver’s license that denotes use of the interlock. Failure to obtain this new license results in a mandatory jail term.

The con is the inconvenience and the cost of the interlock system. The cost to install the interlock system is around $100-300. The monitoring fee is about $60 per month. It can be costly! You can see that you must compare the cost of the interlock system resulting in lack of restrictions against the cost of the DIP program. You will also have to take time off work to attend the program plus the imposed restrictions on your driving. Remember that if you are driving outside the driving parameters, you can be charged with driving under an OVI suspension. That is a misdemeanor of the first degree. It carries a potential sentence of up to a $1,000 fine and 6 months in jail. The person can also lose their driving privileges.

The other major change is the “lookback” rule. Under the prior law, the statute would impose additional mandatory penalties if there was an OVI conviction in the past 6 years. Now additional penalties are imposed if there has been a prior conviction in the past 10 years.

First Time Offenders Under Annie's Law

In addition to increasing the “look back” period from 6 to 10 years, the first-time offenders can get a one-year suspension of their driver license. It can be cut in half if the person requests and the court grant unlimited driving privileges with the previously mentioned ignition interlock devise. The court can also suspend all the jail time if the offender does not test positive for alcohol. If the person tests positive, then the court must impose the suspended jail time.

Second Time Offenders Under Annie's Law

As previously mentioned, Annie’s law also changed the 6 year to 10 years for the second time offender. They can still get the interlock devise. Again, the suspension time can be reduced in half with the interlock devise. The maximum suspension time is increased to 7 years. The suspension of the immobilization period can also be suspended with an ignition interlock.

Third Time Offenders Under Annie's Law

As to the third time offender, the new law has extended the driver license minimum suspension from two years to a maximum suspension of twelve years. Again, if the person has an interlock devise the court may cut the suspension in half which would cut the minimum suspension from two years to one year. Also, no privileges may be granted on a suspension imposed on an offender who has had three or more convictions or guilty pleas within the preceding ten years.

About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a multi-generational, family owned law firm practicing law in the areas of car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury. Our firm practices law in Ohio and Michigan.

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