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New Annie’s Law’s Ignition Interlock Requirements Face Unique Challenges in Rural Ohio

OVI interlock rural ohio


Ohio has recently changed its OVI law, which governs operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Under “Annie’s Law”, Ohio’s OVI penalties puts much more reliance on ignition interlock devices. These machines monitor the levels of alcohol in a person’s system by requiring the driver of a vehicle blow into the device before the car will start.

Lawmakers in Ohio hope that the new law will reduce the prevalence of drunk driving in the state, but may have overlooked potential serious burdens the new law will place on those living in poorer and more remote rural counties.


Ignition interlock has been studied in rural counties elsewhere with mixed success.

In one study of judges in rural Arizona, many judges interviewed indicated that it is difficult for those who have been cited with DUI / OVI to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Many rural counties and towns do not have an easily accessible vendor who can easily place an ignition interlock on the vehicle. The vendors are typically third party private companies who maintain the ignition interlock devices for the courts. Private companies will not operate in low-density communities where it is not economically viable for their business.

It is likely that drivers convicted of OVI in rural Ohio will be forced to commute to cities such as Columbus, Cincinnati, or Cleveland to have the ignition interlock installed and maintained on their vehicle. For those who cannot make the monthly commute from their rural home to maintain the interlock, this is potentially not an option, which could lead to drivers opting to not have the interlock installed, and take the chance of driving without the interlock.


OVI is a serious offense in Ohio that carries the potential for high fines and court costs that can be difficult for the average person to readily pay. In addition to the known installation and monitoring costs, there are other costs the come with the Ohio’s enhanced reliance on ignition interlock.

Ohio requires that anyone found guilty of OVI must pay for the installation and maintenance of the ignition interlock. For many in rural counties and communities in the state of Ohio, this is an added cost at the end of a very expensive ordeal they simply do not have the money to spend on. As a result, drivers may take the risk of operating a car without the interlock and choose to drive on a restricted license.

Annie’s Law’s reliance on ignition interlock devices is new and many do not yet fully realize what impact it will have on those who have been cited with OVI, especially those in rural communities.

It is important to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about all possible defenses available to you including whether you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle after facing an OVI charge.

If you have questions about your Columbus OVI or interlock violation charges, talk to our Columbus DUI attorneys at 614-361-2804.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Ignition Interlock: An Investigation Into Rural Arizona Judges’ Perceptions.” TRAFFIC TECH, Technology Transfer Series ser.