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Ignition interlocks for first-time offenders in Ohio

Ohio's senate has passed a bill that if signed by the governor would make ignition interlock devices mandatory for first-time offenders who want to avoid a license suspension after an OVI conviction. The legislature has passed the bill, which adds Ohio to the list of 29 states that offer ignition interlocks as a means of reducing recidivism among drivers who have had their licenses suspended as a result of an OVI offense.

One of the difficulties with the punitive treatment of drunk driving offenses is that it ignores that the behavior is often part of an alcohol dependence problem and putting someone behind bars for a few months or years does nothing to solve those issues. Second, most people in Ohio need to drive to get to their job or school and without a license, that can become impossible.

Some individuals will drive while their license is suspended out of necessity, often to prevent losing a job. The ignition interlock option would allow them to legally drive, while still ensuring that they were sober when they operate their motor vehicle.

The ignition interlock functions like a breath-testing device attached to the ignition on a vehicle. The driver must provide a breath sample before starting the vehicle. The device also requires additional samples while the vehicle is in operation to prevent the driver with the restricted license from having some else provide the initial breath sample.

While these devices can be inconvenient, for someone facing OVI charges in Ohio, having such a device is likely to be preferable to losing their driving privileges or spending time in jail.

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