Consequences for vehicle owners who let intoxicated drive

August 17, 2010

Auto Accidents

The following article is posted and reprinted with permission from The Daily Reporter, 580 S. High St., Columbus, OH. Copyright 2010:

Rep. Lorraine Fende has introduced a bill into the Ohio General Assembly that’s designed to help keep intoxicated individuals from getting behind the wheel.

If made into law, House Bill 565 would “amend sections 4507.164 and 4511.203 of the revised code top prohibit a person from entrusting a motor vehicle to a person whom the entruster knows or has reasonable cause to believe is subject to pending OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) or OVUAC (Operating a Vehicle After Under Age Consumption ) charges and to provide that the penalty for a violation of that prohibition or the existing prohibitions related to entrustment of a motor vehicle to a person whose drivers license is suspended under the Implied Consent Law or who is intoxicated is a felony of the fifth degree with a class six judicial license suspension if the other person’s act of driving the vehicle caused the death of another.”

‘This is something that has been on my mind for a long time,” said Fende, D-Willowick.

HB565, which was co-signed by Rep. John Domenick, D-Smithfeld, Rep. Mark Okey, D-Carrollton, and Rep. Sandra Harwood, D-Niles, was inspired by a drunk driving fatality.

‘Two young people in my district were killed by a drunk driver,” Fende said, adding that the tragedy struck with her partly because the driver’s girlfriend had allowed him to use her vehicle the night of the collision. “I want to make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute someone who allows a drunk driver to use their vehicle. The excuse that (the owner of the car) didn’t know the driver was drunk only holds water with me one time. It’s not good enough – try telling that to the parents of the people who died.”

The bill states: ‘Except as otherwise provided in this division, wrongful entrustment of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the offender violates division (A) (2) of this section and the suspension of the other person’s license, permit or privilege related to the violation was an OVI or OVUAC arrest-related suspension or the offender violates division (A) ($) or (6) of this section and if in either case the other person causes the death of another as the proximate result of the other person’s act of driving the motor vehicle, wrongful entrustment of a motor vehicle is a felony of the fifth degree.”

While Domenick said he co-sponsored the bill because it “made some sense,” Fende said she hopes the legislation gains support.

“I would hope so,” she said, noting that she anticipates having to reintroduce the measure in the next session, but in the meantime wasn’t to have a few hearings on the bill and “get people thinking.”  “This is about getting drunk drivers off the road.”

If you or someone you know becomes involved in an accident because of a drunk driver, call us toll free at 1-800-297-9191. We can help!

Learn more about Slater & Zurz by visiting our website at

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Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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