Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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New Ohio law makes drunk driving penalties harsher

Many families in Ohio are impacted by drunk driving every year. A new law known as "Annie's Law" will incentivize judges to order more interlock devices for drunk driving offenders. An interlock device will prevent a car from being started if it detects alcohol on the driver's breath.

The law is named after a woman who was killed by a drunk driver after a head-on collision in Chillicothe. The woman's family learned that the driver was a repeat offender and made efforts to get the bill passed to help make roadways safer. The Central Ohio Association for Justice awarded the victim's father its Outstanding Citizen award in 2017.

The law allows a drunk driving offender to get unrestricted driving privileges once the interlock device has been installed on their vehicle. It also increases the time period for repeat offenses from six years to 10 years. This means that if a person is caught driving while intoxicated for a second time within 10 years, they will face harsher penalties than they did for the first offense.

Drunk driving is becoming a more serious offense as groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have put pressure on state legislatures to enact harsher penalties, particularly for repeat offenders. Drunk driving convictions can lead to fines, jail time, community service and the loss of driving privileges.

A motorist who has been charged with driving under the influence (also known as a DUI) may benefit from consulting with an attorney. When police make an arrest for drunk driving, they typically administer up to three field sobriety tests as well as a chemical test of the person's blood, breath or urine. If the arresting officer failed to conduct the tests according to standard protocol, an attorney may be able to create reasonable doubt regarding the driver's impairment.

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