Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Annie's Law

Ohio motorists should be aware of a state law that became effective on April 4, 2017. Annie's Law was created to protect people from drivers who repeatedly engage in drunken driving behavior. Under the new law, the penalties for first-time offenders have been increased and a new system has been carried out to stop people from driving under the influence. Nearby states that have enacted similar laws have seen the number of deaths related to driving under the reduced by half.

The law, which was signed by the governor in January 2017, is named after a woman who was struck and killed four years ago in Ross County. The perpetrator was a repeat drunk driving offender.

Annie's Law allows first offenders to have their license suspension time halved if they use an interlock device, which is a breathalyzer that stops a vehicle from starting if the driver's blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. The law lengthens the mandatory minimum driver's license suspension time from six months to one year for first-time OVI offenders. When determining sentencing, judges will now be able to consider 10 years' worth of an individual's driving records, instead of just six.

According to a sergeant with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, operating a vehicle while impaired was the cause of almost 40 percent of the traffic fatalities in the state in 2016. One individual whose loved one was killed as a result of a drunk driver stated that she welcomed any legislation that will stop OVIs.

Being convicted of a drunk driving offense can result in very stiff penalties, such as incarceration, heavy fines and long driver's license suspension periods. As a result, people who are facing these charges may want to meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to develop a strategy to counter the charges. In some cases, the attorney can seek to have the charges dropped by asserting that law enforcement did not have the requisite reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop that led to the arrest.

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