Ohio bill targeting repeat drunken drivers stalls

| 12/21/2007

The Ohio Legislature recently wrapped up its 2007 session without approving a bill that sought to crack down on people with multiple drunken driving convictions. However, it isn’t a dead issue.

Sponsored by Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, the bill would force multiple offenders of the state’s driving under the influence law to submit to breath or blood testing when stopped by police on suspicion of drunken driving.

There are more than 33,000 drivers in Ohio who have five or more DUIs, Grendell told The Toledo Blade. There are more than 100,000 drivers who have three or more DUIs.

The bill would permit police to use “whatever reasonable means are necessary” to get a blood sample from repeat offenders suspected of drunken driving who have refused a breath test.

It also would require the impoundment of vehicles and revocation of licenses for one year for those convicted twice in six years. In addition, mandatory treatment for alcoholism and an electronic monitoring bracelet would be required for repeat offenders who have permission from a judge to drive. The device measures alcohol through a person’s sweat.

Another provision in the bill authorizes establishing a public registry of offenders with five or more convictions during the past 20 years. State law now prohibits the release of names and conviction records of those who have been convicted of drunken driving.

The bill – SB17 – remained in a House committee when the first year of the two-year session wrapped up Dec. 12. The Senate-approved bill can be brought back for consideration during the 2008 session that begins Jan. 2.

Another bill put off until next year would make Ohio’s worst sex offenders go green.

Rep. Michael DeBose, D-Cleveland, and Sen. Kevin Coughlin, R-Cuyahoga Falls, are the sponsors of the legislation that calls for all habitual and child-oriented sex offenders to be forced to display fluorescent green license plates for at least five years after their release from prison.

All vehicles owned by the offender would be required to display the distinctive plates. The rule would not be retroactive for all sex offenders.

The bills – HB83 and SB56 – remained in their originating chamber’s committee when the session ended.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor