Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Ohio lawmakers and law enforcement work to curb drunk driving

Drunk driving rates are going down in Ohio and across the country, and law enforcement agencies and state legislators are receiving much of the credit in the Buckeye State. Lawmakers in Columbus sent Annie's Law to Gov. Kasich's desk after a unanimous Senate vote on Dec. 6, and figures from the Ohio State Highway Patrol reveal a sharp increase in the number of operating a vehicle under the influence citations issued in 2016.

Annie's Law is named after a Chillicothe attorney who lost her life in a 2013 drunk driving accident. The motorist responsible had a prior OVI conviction and was driving with a blood alcohol level of more than double the .08 percent state limit. The law will require those convicted of even their first drunk driving offense to have ignition interlock devices fitted to their vehicles. The breath testing devices are linked to ignition systems and prevent vehicles from starting when alcohol is detected.

While legislation like Annie's Law is designed to keep drunk drivers off the road, the OSHP focuses its efforts on those who choose to take the risks associated with getting behind the wheel after drinking. Troopers were involved in 4,359 OVI enforcement incidents during the first 51 weeks of 2016 in the Columbus area alone. That represents an increase of more than 20 percent over the 3,613 OVI enforcement incidents that occurred in District 6 during the whole of 2015.

Criminal defense attorneys may study police reports very carefully during law enforcement clampdowns. The U.S. Constitution establishes very clear boundaries that police officers must work within, but these lines can become compromised when officers, deputies or troopers are put under intense pressure to produce results. The Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures, and attorneys may seek to have drunk driving charges dismissed in cases where police may not have had the requisite justification to pull vehicles over.

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