The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill which would make ignition interlock devices (IID) mandatory for first time OVI offenders. H.B. 469 or “Annie’s Law,” will be voted on next week by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Jessica D’Varga, of The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc., was asked to provide opposition testimony on behalf of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). OACDL opposes the bill for several reasons.
First of all, Judges already have the discretion to order that an OVI defendant install an IID in his/her vehicle, whether or not the defendant is a first time offender. Requiring judges to order the interlock device rather than permitting a judge to grant driving privileges takes away a judge’s discretion to deal with cases on a fact specific basis.
A big misconception about the proposed bill is that it would require the installation of an IID only after a defendant is convicted of OVI. This is not the case. The new law would require a judge to order the ignition interlock device to be installed upon an individual’sarrest . In fact, the bill would require the IID to be installed even when an OVI charge is reduced to a lesser charge such as Reckless Operation-which is not an alcohol related offense.
Another big concern about mandatory IID is that several things have been shown to cause false positive readings on an interlock device, such as mouthwash, spicy foods, and acetone in diabetics. If a false positive is registered, a defendant will not only be unable to start their vehicle, resulting in missed work, childcare responsibilities, or medical appointments, but will also be hauled into court on charges of tampering. The penalties associated with a positive result include SCRAM monitoring. Pre-trial services and probation departments are already overwhelmed and understaffed.
Finally, an OVI defendant will have to pay to have the interlock device installed, and pay to have the device monitored through a third party provider. Installation alone can cost anywhere from $80 to $150 and the monthly fee ranges from $50-$200. Those who cannot afford the interlock device will not be able to work, and in turn will not be able to pay the fines, costs, and reinstatement fees associated with an OVI. For those declared indigent, the cost will be passed onto the community through increased court fines, costs, and fees.
Hopefully our lawmakers will consider these important issues when determining their position on Annie’s Law. H.B. 469, if reported by the House Judiciary Committee next week, will still have to pass through the Senate before being sent to the Governor for signature.