Up front: This blog is not meant in any way to disrespect the family and friends of Annie Rooney who, in her loving memory, have promoted Annie’s Law with nothing but good intentions and concern for public safety.
That said, here is why it is permissible for you to oppose Annie’s Law, an Ohio Bill that is, as of this writing, still in committee.
#1 – Annie’s Law is just another mandatory sentence.
Annie’s Law would decree a mandatory requirement that 1st-time DUI offenders install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. A portable Breathalyzer would determine if the driver could start the car and a small camera would verify that the correct person was blowing into the device.
It sounds like a good idea; and sometimes it is, since judges can hand that sentence down now when it is appropriate. Annie’s Law however, looks to tie the hands of our justice system by disrespecting the judgment of our highest judicial officials. We have a judge for a reason, but this law tacitly tells him or her, we don’t trust you to make the right decision.
In its current iteration, Annie’s Law, with the support of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), wants the ignition interlock device to be mandatory even for a DUI arrest, circumventing the judicial system entirely. Whether that provision makes it to the house floor remains to be seen.
#2 – The Ignition Interlock Device is Expensive
The price of the interlock device isn’t a real concern when someone’s life is on the line, we get that. Again, a judge can make that call. However, forcing the $75.00 per month cost onto a destitute driver who hasn’t even been convicted yet or a first-time offender who chose to plead guilty to iffy circumstantial charges because the cost of a criminal defense attorney in Dayton, OH was out of reach, is still better left to the discretion of a judge.
It may seem insignificant in the balance, but many people who stand in front of a judge are barely hanging on financially. When a judge determines that the device is not needed, it is not justice when the cost is forced on the defendant by legislative decree.
#3 – Annie’s Law Sets a Bad Precedent
Even though 20 states already have an “Annie’s Law” on their books, Ohio doesn’t need to add to the momentum laws like this create. MADD is actually in favor of installing an ignition interlock device on every car on the road and has lobbied to that effect. Even though you never drink, you would have to blow before you go.
Statistically, alcohol is not the cause of most accidents or even traffic fatalities—not even close. When these causes become known, what other steps or devices will be required in the future to legally operate a motor vehicle?
You could let your imagination run wild; A device that tests for allergy medication? A device that shuts down your cell-phone? A road-rage calculator? Or a device that calculates if you have had enough sleep? How about even a quick IQ test?
Ultimately, the proposed law and its future versions indicate a lack of trust. Maybe it is understandable to withhold trust from someone who gets drunk and then drives but when we start mistrusting every citizen and those we willingly call Judge or Your Honor, we should probably slow down and reevaluate the path we are on.