'Annie's Law' means tougher penalties for drunk drivers in Ohio - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

'Annie's Law' means tougher penalties for drunk drivers in Ohio

Annie Rooney. (Source: WBNS-10TV) Annie Rooney. (Source: WBNS-10TV)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Drunk drivers in Ohio will face tougher penalties starting Tuesday under Annie's Law.

The new law cracks down on repeat offenders and increases the punishment for first time offenders.

The law is named after 36-year-old Annie Rooney, who was killed by a drunk driver in Chillicothe nearly four years ago. The driver’s blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Annie’s family has been fighting for tougher penalties and they hope this law will keep other families from feeling their pain. Her family started pushing the state legislature for tougher drunk driving laws just weeks after she died. Annie had been an attorney, even prosecuting OVI offenders herself.

Her dad Rick spoke out before this law was passed in her name.

“All the grief and agony that we experience almost every day in Ohio could end if we pass this and then Ohio would be an even greater state,” Rick Rooney said.

Annie's Law increases mandatory minimum driver's license suspensions for OVI offenders. For first time offenders, their license can now be suspended for one year, instead of six months. But under the new law, they can request to use an interlock device, which allows them full driving privileges.

Their car won't start if they have a BAC above the legal limit.

The law also has harsher punishments for repeat OVI offenders. It allows judges to look at 10 years of driving records instead of just six years during sentencing.

Annie's family believes this law could save 50 to 100 lives a year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports states with the strongest ignition interlock laws, like West Virginia, have seen reductions in drunk driving deaths by 50 percent.

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