A new bill, named Annie's Law, was introduced to the Ohio Legislature in early March of 2014. This bill will affect those who are convicted of OVI, specifically alcohol OVI, for the first time. Generally, the old OVI law states, as a consequence of an OVI conviction, that a court can suspend an offender's driver's license. After a specific amount of time under suspension, the offender could then petition to the court for limited driving privileges—driving to and from work, school, and the like.
However, this new law would require that first-time OVI offenders, if granted the same limited driving privileges, with the additional requirement of a certified ignition interlock device (IID). The law would require that this device be placed on the offender's vehicle that they will be using for their limited driving privileges. This type of device is attached to a vehicle ignition, and does not allow the vehicle to start unless the device detects no alcohol in the operator's (offender's) body. This device is very similar to a Breathalyzer device that most law enforcement officers use for detection of alcohol.
First-time offenders defined & Driving under suspension with an IID
The bill (potential law) defines first-time offenders as "a person whose license has been suspended for an alcohol-related violation under any of the following:"
- The state OVI statute, if the offender has no prior OVI convictions;
- The state implied consent law (consent to a chemical test if stopped for OVI), following a positive chemical test, if the offender has no prior OVI convictions;
- A municipal OVI ordinance, if the offender has no prior OVI convictions; or
- The state statute that requires a suspension for an out-of-state OVI conviction, if the offender has no prior convictions in Ohio for OVI or certain other offenses involving the operation of a motor vehicle, motorcycle, snowmobile, locomotive, watercraft, or aircraft while under the influence of alcohol
Consequences for violating an order or circumventing or tampering with an IID
If the IID device is tampered with, circumvented (letting someone else breathe into the device), or the device would not allow the offender to start the motor vehicle, the court is authorized to double the period of suspension of the person's license, however no more than double is allowed.
If the court receives notice that the IID monitoring would not allow the motor vehicle to start, the court may impose the following consequences for each instance:
- On the first instance, the court may require the person to wear a monitor that provides remote continuous alcohol monitoring* (see below);
- On the second instance, the court must require the person to wear a monitor that provides remote continuous alcohol monitoring for at least 40 days;
- On the third instance, the court must require the person to wear a monitor that provides remote continuous alcohol monitoring for at least 60 days;
*Remote continuous alcohol monitoring, or a SCRAM tether device, is a device that monitors an offender's alcohol levels on a constant and daily basis.
Additional court costs
If the court issues an IID for an offender to use, the bill allows the court to impose an additional court cost of $2.50. The court may not waive this additional fee unless it determines that the offender is indigent, and as a result the court has waived all court costs. Otherwise, the court can impose this additional cost, and sometimes, the court can add an additional $2.50 on top of the original $2.50 ($5.00 in total) for the maintenance of the habitual OVI/OMWI offender registry.
Suspension under implied consent law
Under current law, regardless of whether a person has appealed an OVI suspension or if the appeal is heard, a person may petition to the court whose license has been suspended under the implied consent law for limited driving privileges. However, the bill pulls first-time offenders out of this part of the statute, and gives them their own limited driving privileges—with an IID.
Limited driving privileges and period of "hard suspension"
As stated above, the current law states that a first-time offender of an alcohol-related OVI allows the court to give the offender limited driving privileges. However, under the new bill, if the court grants the offender limited driving privileges, an IID would be required. In other words, if the court grants the offender any type of limited driving privileges, the offender would have to use the IID when driving. Additionally, it should be noted that the bill would retain a provision where the court would still retain their authority to grant limited driving privileges to first-time OVI offenders who are convicted of a drug-related OVI—Annie's law is more concerned with alcohol-related OVIs versus drug-related OVIs.
Under current law, there is a provision that limits when a first-time offender can petition to the court for limited driving privileges. Specifically, for a first-time offender of alcohol-related OVI, the offender must wait 15 days before petitioning to the court—this is called a "hard suspension." The bill strikes this provision, and allows these offenders to petition to the court for limited driving privileges with a required IID without any hard suspension, unless other OVI punishment statute states otherwise.
Another person breathing into device
Existing OVI laws prohibits another person from breathing into the IID or other immobilizing devices in order to make the vehicle operable for the offender. This bill retains this same law where a first-time offender has been granted limited driving privileges with the use of a certified IID.
Prohibition against driving under OVI suspension
Generally, under existing law, an offender cannot drive a vehicle under an OVI suspension; the new bill retains this prohibition as well. However, the bill creates an exception for driving in accordance with.
- A first-time offender with an issued IID,
- Limited driving privileges, and
- The employer-owned vehicle exemption.
Employer-owned vehicle exception
Under existing law, if the offender is granted limited driving privileges and their employment requires them to drive employer-owned vehicles, then the offender may drive the motor vehicle without violation if they meet the following requirements:
- The employee is required to drive a vehicle in the course and scope of employment,
- The employer has been notified of the condition, and
- The employee carries proof of that notification while using the vehicle for normal business purposes.
Likewise, the new bill extends this exemption to those first-time offenders who would otherwise be required to use an IID for limited driving purposes.
What does this mean if the bill becomes law?
Generally speaking, if this bill becomes law, OVI statutes in Ohio will be modified to include first-time offenders being required to use an IID in their vehicles. Although not stated in House Bill 469, the intent of this bill is to deter driving while under the influence of alcohol. As it stands, those in favor of this bill are of the mindset that although the court can limit alcohol-related OVI offenders' legal driving abilities, this current law does not do enough to thwart those offenders who otherwise ignore court orders. This bill seeks to accomplish this task—to stop alcohol-related OVI offenders from violating court orders, and fix the problem at its root. The Ohio Legislature is trying to take the choice out of the equation—if OVI offenders are going to drive drunk regardless of court orders, this bill takes the choice to drive drunk away from those offenders, and only allows them to operate a motor vehicle when they are sober, per the monitoring of the IID.
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