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Family honors life of lost loved one killed by a drunk driver

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports Annie’s Law which would require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders, with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.  The legislation is named after Annie Rooney, who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013.

“Reducing drunk driving fatalities in Ohio begins with requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Enacting Annie’s Law is MADD’s number one priority in Ohio,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.  “MADD applauds Representative Terry Johnson for authoring this lifesaving proposal.”

Drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable.  In 2012, 385 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Ohio, representing 34 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. In addition to the extraordinary emotional burden for victims, drunk driving deaths are an unnecessary economic hardship for Ohio, costing the state and taxpayers over $1.8 billion.

"Annie's entire family is focused on preventing another family from going through this senseless, preventable, loss of life on our roads,” said Walt Rooney.  “Drunk drivers kill hundreds of Ohioans every year just like Annie, and we must do more to stop them.  Drunk driving is a public health crisis and we are focused on standing with our legislators to have Ohio join the over 20 states that have made ignition interlocks mandatory for first time offenders."

Ignition interlocks are small breathalyzers linked to a vehicle’s ignition system. The convicted drunk driver must blow into the device to start the car. If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the preset level the car will not start. Currently 20 states including West Virginia require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. These laws typically require first-time offenders to use an interlock during the license suspension period.  In Ohio, interlocks are only required for repeat offenders.

Research shows that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended driver’s license. Ignition interlocks are more effective than license suspension alone and a more practical way to deal with drunk drivers. Annie’s Law would allow a convicted drunk driver to continue driving, but in a way that will protect families and other motorists.

Additionally, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing drunk driving repeat offenses by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  All-offender interlock laws are found to reduce repeat offenses significantly when effectively implemented. States that have passed all offender interlock laws have seen large reductions in drunk driving deaths.  Specifically, drunk driving fatalities have dropped by 43 and 42 percent in Arizona and Oregon respectively. In West Virginia, drunk driving deaths have dropped by 33 percent as a result of the 2008 all-offender interlock law.

“MADD calls on lawmakers to advance Annie’s Law. Ohio residents deserve to be protected from drunk drivers. Ignition interlocks will save lives,” added Withers.

For more information on ignition interlocks, please visit www.madd.org/interlock.

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