Ohio Lawmakers pass Annie’s Law, approving special devices in cars of OVI offenders

Annie Rooney

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Annie Rooney was killed in a head-on crash by a drunk driver back on July 4, 2013.

Her father Richard said since that tragic day, hundreds more Ohioan’s have died in crashes involved with drivers under the influence. All the while the public has waited on the law to change.

annies3Today, state lawmakers voted to put ignition interlock devices in vehicles of those convicted of driving under the influence.

The Rooney family has waited nearly three years for “Annie’s Law,” a law that allows judges to force anyone convicted of drunk driving to use an in-car breathalyzer.

“Our family’s world changed forever when on that July night we were visited by two patrolmen,” said Rooney.

Over the last two years the Rooneys, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, (MADD) and several lawmakers have fought to get Annie’s Law on the books.

“The thing I regret the most when we didn’t get it passed in 2014 is we continue to lose lives,” Rooney said.

ignitionThis law will include drivers with a first-time OVI. The device’s maker, Smart Start of Ohio, demonstrated the built-in safeguards where the driver is required to take multiple tests after the vehicle has been started. Along with that, a camera and GPS are synced with the ignition interlock device, that take pictures of the driver and alerts authorities to the vehicle’s location.

“The one type of homicide that is 100 percent preventable is the crime of impaired driving,” said John DiPietro, MADD state chair.

Rooney said he’s been told the device is a punishment or shaming device, but said it’s not, it’s a safety device.

He said one day he’ll meet Annie in heaven and his family wants to reassure her she did not die in vain.

“What happened to me and what did you do about it? Well, what we did about it is Annie’s Law,” Rooney said.

House Bill sponsor Rep. Gary Scherer (R) said they hope to have the law on the governor’s desk by the end of the year.

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