Ohio makes stricter laws for people caught drving drunk or on drugs

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 17:56:04-04

It's violent crashes like the one in Lorain County in 2015 that caught the eye of state lawmakers.

Police said the female driver had drugs in her system when she smashed into a house in Amherst Township, killing a baby.

RELATED: Marijuana found in car that crashed into Amherst Township home


Now, Ohio laws for OVI or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs just got tougher.

The mandatory minimum driver’s license suspension for a first-time offender increases from six months to one year.

However, the driver can request to drive, if they have an ignition interlock device installed.

The device requires a breath test to start the car. It becomes mandatory for a second arrest.

Penalties will also become stricter for offenders who were arrested in the last ten years, instead of the just the last six years.

"It helps in saving lives, and that's the bottom, line saving lives,” said Jeralyn Shimmell with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Schimmel said most OVI offenders drive even when their license is taken away. That's why she supports mandatory use of the ignition interlock device.

"The statistic dictates that 75 percent of offenders drive under a driver's license suspension, so by having an interlock system this will help combat that,” Schimmel said.

Lieutenant Mark Neff with the Medina Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said they made 327 OVI arrests last year.

There were also five people killed in OVI crashes last year, according to Neff.

Neff said he knows stricter laws won’t stop people from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but it will make some people think twice about it.

“We fully support any law that discourages people from getting behind the wheel impaired. If it saves one life, then it’s well worth it,” Neff said.


The new law took affect Tuesday.