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Guest Column from Representative Ron Maag- Protecting Ohioans from Drunken Drivers

July 6, 2016
Republican Newsroom

In 2014 nearly 290,000 people were involved in drunken driving crashes across the nation, while over 1.1 million were arrested for driving under the influence. Additionally, according to the FBI drunk drivers have on average driven drunk 80 times before their first DUI arrest.

The numbers are staggering and an issue that our nation, and state, has been working to address for years. Yet the drunk driving continues.

Recently, the Ohio House passed House Bill 388, also known as “Annie’s Law,” which will work to prevent repeat drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel drunk again. If passed, Annie’s law will allow DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle in lieu of restricted driving privileges. Ignition interlock devices, or IIDs, require a driver to first blow into a breathalyzer before being able to start their car in order to ensure the individual has not been drinking.

By allowing the offenders to install the ignition interlock device, it gives the offenders the ability to drive without suspending their driver’s license while also ensuring that the individual is not able to start their vehicle while intoxicated.

Currently, Ohio law requires DUI offenders to serve a driving suspension that restricts their driving privileges to only include transportation to work and school. However, this punishment is ineffective given driving suspensions are violated 50-75 percent of the time and are difficult to enforce.

In the instance of Annie Rooney, Chillicothe native and namesake of Annie’s Law, the drunk driver who ultimately took her life had been arrested for drunk driving five times before the night she veered into Annie’s car on US-50. Had the driver had an ignition interlock device installed in her car, she would have never been able to start her vehicle that evening and would not have been able to cause so much pain for the Rooney family.

I was proud to have voted in favor of Annie’s Law and stand up for responsible, sober driving. If passed by the Ohio Senate, Annie’s Law will make Ohio roadways much safer and will undoubtedly protect innocent lives such as Annie Rooney’s.