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Ohio House passes ignition interlock bill

The Ohio legislature has invested a great deal of time in section 4511.19 of the Ohio code. This section deals with "Operating vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs," or OVI. Even if you did not read the section, you would suspect it is important simply because of its size. It is made up of nearly 10,000 words. It has also been amended about 30 times since the 1950s.

OVI, as the offense is known in Ohio, is a significant problem, and the legislature has attempted to deal with it in many ways. Over time, the statute has become stricter and punishments have increased. The problem remains, and a bill has passed the Ohio House that attempts another way to deal with recidivism among those charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Jail time, it has been found, does little to deal with an offender's substance abuse issues. Sending such a person to prison for five years simply means that when they are released with an untreated alcohol problem, they are likely to return to their old habits and be arrested again.

This is expensive and places them at risk of injury to themselves and others. A bill passed by the house, if approved by the senate and signed into law by the governor, would demand that a repeat offender could be allowed to drive as long as the vehicle was equipped with an ignition interlock device. This device is like a breathalyzer, and the driver must provide a breath sample to it before it will allow the vehicle to start.

The advantage for the offender is that instead of jail time or a license suspension with restrictions on when they can drive, they are allowed full driving privileges as long as they do not fail the interlock device test.

Of course, for an offender who has been charged with multiple OVIs, it is essential that treatment is available to help them overcome their substance abuse problem and prevent any further incidents.

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