Ohio Senate passes ‘Annie’s Law’ to strengthen Ohio drunk driving laws

Annie Rooney
Annie Rooney

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A southern Ohio family is getting closure more than three years after their loved one was hit and killed in a drunk driving accident. Annie Rooney was an attorney from Chillicothe who died on July 4th 2013.  Her family has lobbied to strengthen Ohio OVI laws for years and their bill, honoring Annie, was passed the Ohio Senate Tuesday afternoon.

Annie’s sister Kate Lyaker says, “On the surface she was hilarious. She was a comedian But, if you really got to know her she really cared a lot about her friends and the people she was representing.”

Tragedy struck the Rooney family. Their loved one, Annie, was taken from them in an instant.  Annie left loved ones, clients, and her mark on a community behind.

Lyaker adds, “My sister was a prosecutor, and I myself was a prosecutor of DUIs. I never imagined this would affect my family.”

The Rooney family converted their sorrow into action and today, that action turned into results.

Annie’s Father Richard Rooney says, “Now it is done. We can go forward and there won’t be anymore lives needlessly lost.”

Annie’s law has passed the Ohio State House and Senate. In the past OVI offenders had their driver’s license suspended.  About 75% of offenders ignored those restrictions.  They drove anyway.

Annie’s law allows offenders to forgo driving suspensions if they use an ignition interlock instead.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving national president Colleen Sheehey-Church explains, “You learn to blow in the device itself. If you pass, the car will start. If it detects any amount of alcohol, it will not start the car.”

Sheehey-Church says Ohio will now be the 29th state that gives OVI offenders the opportunity to use the ignition interlock device instead of suspending the offender’s license. Lyaker says neighboring states like Kentucky and West Virginia have already enacted similar laws and have seen their OVI deaths cut in half.

Annie’s Law has now cleared the both chambers and awaits Ohio Governor John Kasich’s signature before the bill can become law.

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