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House Committee Advances Legislation to Toughen Penalties for OVI and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide


COLUMBUS – The House Criminal Justice Committee has taken a significant step forward in addressing drunk driving-related fatalities by passing House Bill 37, a measure aimed at increasing penalties for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, announced its sponsors, State Representatives Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe) and Kevin Miller (R-Newark).

The proposed legislation seeks to establish harsher penalties for individuals convicted of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide who have prior convictions for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). Under House Bill 37, repeat offenders responsible for fatal accidents while driving under the influence could face up to twenty years in prison.

Representative Johnson emphasized the importance of the bill’s one-strike policy, particularly for individuals with a history of OVI offenses. “If anyone does have at least one OVI offense on their record and they go on to kill someone while driving drunk, the court will have the ability to sentence them to prison for up to twenty years,” stated Johnson.

Furthermore, the legislation extends its reach to offenders with previous convictions for vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, or involuntary manslaughter resulting from an OVI offense. It also proposes raising fines for all aggravated vehicular homicides connected to an OVI to $25,000 and increasing fines for other OVI offenses.

House Bill 37 additionally mandates the use of ignition interlocks for all second-time OVI offenders and those with prior alcohol-related convictions. Representative Miller, a former state trooper, emphasized the necessity of the bill, citing statistics that nearly 30% of all OVI arrests involve repeat offenders. “The consequences of an OVI conviction were clearly not enough to change their mind and deter their behavior. House Bill 37 sends a strong message to these individuals,” stated Miller.

The legislation now awaits consideration on the House Floor, marking a significant step forward in Ohio’s efforts to combat drunk driving and enhance road safety.