Ohio DUI Bill Prompted by College Students' Deaths in Car Accident Involving Unlicensed Driver with 11 Prior DUI Offenses
By: Mary Ann Pekara
A March 2006 car accident in which two college students were killed by an unlicensed driver with double-digit previous DUI offenses has helped prompt a legislative proposal which would bolster Ohio DUI laws and penalties, and ultimately represents another example of a state going after repeat offenders this New Year.
After 11 previous drunken driving offenses, James Cline of Geauga County was driving his girlfriend's truck without a license when he killed 18-year-olds Andrew Hopkins and Grace Chamberlain last March. Cline was later sentenced to 38 years in prison for the fatal car accident. Both victims were students at Hiram College, a small liberal arts college in Northeast Ohio.
After hearing of this terrible incident, state Senator Timothy Grendell of Chesterland began working on some legislation to bolster the DUI penalties for offenders in the state, according to a story in The Cincinnati Post. Specifically, his Ohio DUI legislation features these major points of emphasis.
This proposed Ohio DUI legislation would also give law enforcement more power when dealing with suspected drunken driving suspects with previous convictions. Specifically, this anticipated Ohio DUI bill would force suspects with three prior DUI convictions to have to submit to a breath test.
This soon-to-be-introduced Ohio DUI bill would also give authorities more power to charge people who loan their cars to drunk drivers. Prior to the fatal accident in March, Cline had borrowed the truck from his girlfriend.
This Ohio DUI legislation would require offenders to wear ankle bracelets which test a person's perspiration for traces of alcohol. Grendell says that this feature of his Ohio DUI bill would better allow law enforcement to monitor those DUI offenders who are on probation.
This Ohio DUI legislation would also advocate the mandatory impounding of offenders' cars for one year.
Grendell was quoted in The Cincinnati Post story as saying that these strict regulations are especially needed for repeat DUI offenders, who he feels are obviously not heeding the message about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. Grendell also added that it is the duty of lawmakers to get this point across to people like Cline. Grendell further elaborated that while state lawmakers have had good intentions and passed many Ohio DUI laws in the past, more action must be taken. According to the story, he plans to introduce this Ohio DUI legislation soon.
Ultimately, this Ohio DUI legislation is another example of states striving to bolster their DUI laws, especially when it comes to repeat offenders. Whether it's a recent South Carolina DUI bill increasing DUI penalties with rising BAC levels and the number of previous offenses or a recent Santa Fe, New Mexico DUI law allowing police to seize and sell the vehicles of people following a third DUI conviction, the crackdown against repeat offenders is certainly more than just a warning.