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Ohio House considers changes to first-time DUI penalties

Aside from fines and possible jail time, another legal consequence of drunk driving is that it can result in administrative penalties such as license suspensions. Sometimes, though, suspending a person’s license may not be enough to deter that individual from driving, or even driving again while intoxicated. A proposed bill now being considered in the Ohio House of Representatives seeks to encourage DUI offenders to avoid repeat offending by loosening the driving restrictions placed on such individuals in exchange for increased use of ignition interlock devices.

Under current Ohio law, a person convicted of DUI would face a license suspension that could be offset to some degree by the court allowing limited driving privileges -- for example, in cases where a person can show a need related to employment, medical or educational requirements -- provided that an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle that the person drives to these locales.

The proposed legislation would change this to allow courts to allow convicted drunk drivers to drive with a restricted license indicating that they could only do so with an ignition interlock requirement (the law would also require such devices to be equipped with cameras beginning in 2020). This would also have the estimated effect of reducing driver’s license suspensions by about half. Those caught driving a vehicle not so equipped could be subject to enhanced penalties compared to current law, including a doubling of any license suspension duration and a new requirement to wear an alcohol intake monitoring device.

Finally, the proposed law would also require convicted drunk drivers to not drive drunk again for 10 years at the risk of having their licenses suspended for even longer.

Whether these proposed changes will have any effect on reducing car accidents connected to drunk driving may not be known unless and until they become law. In the meantime, in any instance of a DUI accident that causes injury, it remains a sound strategy to consult with a personal injury attorney who may be able to use statutory violations of drunk driving law to help the plaintiff’s case in litigation.

Source: Cleveland.com, “DUI law changes, tougher invasive species rules proposed in new Ohio House bills,” Jeremy Pelzer, Nov. 25, 2015

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