Originally published on Apr 25, 2017
Ohio OVI/DUI laws expanded the beginning April 2017. Drivers who are charged with operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in the state of Ohio face the possibility of increased penalties and future consequences if convicted. With the passing of HB 388, also known as Annie’s Law, the Ohio Legislature took aim at repeat OVI offenders and even increased penalties for first-time offenders. The most notable changes include:
Expanded “Lookback Period”
Under Ohio laws, first-time offenders are treated differently than repeat offenders and are permitted to avoid minimum jail sentences by completing educational programs. Repeat OVI offenders, however, face harsher penalties with each subsequent conviction, including mandatory incarceration, increased fines, and longer license suspensions. Under Annie’s Law, the “lookback period” for determining whether someone may be treated as a first-time offender has increased from 6 to 10 years. Take for example a driver who is now charged with an OVI and has one prior conviction 7 years ago. Where Ohio courts were once permitted to treat that individual as a first-time offender, they now must sanction them as a repeat offender if convicted of the OVI offense, including a minimum period of ten days in jail.
Increased License Suspensions
Individuals convicted of an OVI in Ohio face mandatory license suspensions. The length of the suspension is determined by whether you are a first-time or repeat offender. Under Annie’s Law, the mandatory minimum period for a first-time offender has increased, as have the maximum license suspension periods for repeat offenders.
Old Law (6-year Lookback) New Law (10-year Lookback)
1st: 6 mos. – 3 yrs. 1st: 1 yr. – 3 yrs.
2nd: 1 yr. – 5 yrs. 2nd: 1 yr. – 7 yrs.
3rd: 2 yrs. – 10 yrs. 3rd: 2 yrs. – 12 yrs.
4th or 5th: 3 yrs. – Life 4th or 5th: 3 yrs. – Life
Use of Interlock Ignition Devices (IID)
Under the old laws, Ohio courts were permitted to give convicted driver’s limited driving privileges during the period of their license suspension, typically for purposes of work, school, medical, child care, and requirements of probation. Interlock ignition devices (machines which require a driver to submit a “clean” breath sample before the car will start) were mandatory for repeat offenders who wished to exercise driving privileges but were optional for first-time offenders. While Ohio courts are still permitted to grant such privileges, Annie’s Law seems to encourage the use of IID’s by offering an option for unlimited driving privileges to first-time offenders who equip their vehicle with approved devices. Additionally, the court is permitted to reduce the suspension period by half (1 year to 6 months) for those that do.
While this option is certainly good news for IID companies and their stockholders, first-time offenders should exercise caution when pursuing this option. IID’s are not fail-proof, and there is a litany of substances that can provide “false positives”. Those who are found in violation of this condition face sanctions, including the imposition of any suspended jail time, increased license suspension, and the requirement to wear a SCRAM (continuous alcohol monitoring) device.
Given the increased penalties and future consequences created by Annie’s Law, it is important now, more than ever, to make sure you are adequately represented if you find yourself charged with an OVI in Ohio.
To learn more, contact the expert criminal defense lawyers of Dworken & Bernstein.
In Lake County, call 440.946.7656
In Cuyahoga County, call 216.861.4211