State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) today introduced House Bill 469, legislation that would strengthen penalties on drunk-driving offenders.

House Bill 469, known as “Annie’s Law,” would require a first-time offender of a drunk-driving offense to use a small breathalyzer linked to the vehicle’s ignition system in order to operate the automobile. The device measures the driver’s blood alcohol content and will not start if it is greater than the preset level. Drivers convicted of a drunk-driving offense will be required to use a certified ignition interlock for the duration of their suspension.

The idea for the legislation originated when Annie Rooney, a native of Chillicothe, was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver in her hometown July 5th, 2013.

“Annie was a smart young woman with a promising life and career ahead of her when her life was needlessly cut short because of a drunk driver,” said Rep. Scherer. “She had just moved back to Chillicothe to open up her own law practice, shortly before she was killed. I hope this legislation can help prevent a terrible tragedy like this from happening again.”

“We decided long ago in Ohio that driving under the influence is unacceptable,” Johnson said. “Even so, people continue to be cut down on our highways, and far too many of these by repeat DUI offenders.  That’s what happened when Annie Rooney, a beautiful, young woman was taken from this earth by a person who continued to drive drunk.  Enough is enough.  We must do all that we can to keep this from happening to anyone else.  This bill will decrease these senseless and totally avoidable tragedies in our state.”

Under current Ohio law, judges can require first-time offenders to use an ignition interlock device, such as a breathalyzer. This bill would make it mandatory. Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control.

House Bill 469 was introduced Thursday and will be referred to a committee in the near future.

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