DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new law – called Annie’s Law – designed to protect people from repeat drunk drivers took effect Tuesday.
The new law increases penalties for first-time offenders and implements a new system to stop repeat offenders.
It is named after Annie Rooney who was hit and killed by a repeat drunk driving offender four years ago in Ross County.
The law will reduce a 13-month license suspension period by half for first offenders if they use an interlock device – a breathalyzer that prevents a car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content is more than the legal limit.
The law also increases mandatory minimum driver’s license suspensions for first-time OVI offenders from six months to one year.
During sentencing, judges will also be able to look at ten years’ worth of driving records, rather than just six.
Janet Carpenter, whose daughter Sophie Kerrigan died in a car crash in 2012, said she welcomes any law that will crack down on OVI incidents.
She said losing someone in a crash as a result of drunk driving is a life-changing event that could happen to anyone.
“You will never have that same life again,” Carpenter said. “You will never have the extreme peace – at least that I used to – knowing my kids were safe, going to school. They were productive individuals. You don’t have that anymore.”
She said she worries about who it could happen to next.
“It’s not, ‘Oh it won’t happen.’ It’s scary. Who are you going to know who’s going to lose another child to that situation, another loved one.”
Sgt. Chris Colbert of Dayton’s Ohio State Highway Patrol noted last year that OVI-related deaths accounted for nearly 40 percent of traffic-related deaths in Ohio.
“On average, there’s between high 900 to 1,200 people a year killed in fatal crashes,” he said. “You take away a third of that, that’s 300 people. That is significant. Every person that is killed is someone’s brother, son, mother, father, cousin. Those people are important to someone.”
Neighboring states with similar laws have seen OVI deaths cut in half.
Governor John Kasich signed Annie’s Law in January.