Ignition Interlock Device Legislation

New Michigan Bill Designed to Increase Oversight

A new three-bill package, created to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents across the state, is now in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was introduced by Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who is determined to address what she feels in a very real issue for Michigan drunk driving prevention: ignition interlock devices.

In Michigan, an ignition interlock device is often court ordered for repeat offenders. These are individuals who have two or more drunk driving convictions on their record. It operates much like a breathalyzer and is installed on a car’s dashboard. Before starting the car, a driver is required to blow into it. The device compares the alcohol level in the driver’s breath to preset blood alcohol limits. If the driver’s BAC exceeds that of the device, it will prevent the engine from starting.

According to Schuitmaker, more than 8,000 of these devices have been installed into vehicles during the last three years. This should have made a drastic dent in the number of drunk driving incidents around Michigan. But the system itself is flawed and therefore cannot be as effective as lawmakers had hoped.

One of the issues, Schuitmaker claims, is the fact that there just isn’t enough oversight to ensure that the devices are produced and installed correctly. Faulty production and improper installation can lead to tampering. This would allow drunk drivers with prior convictions to drive under the influence of alcohol again.

The bills propose that all centers which produce, maintain, and remove the ignition interlock devices would need to be certified by the Michigan State Police. Currently, these centers have little to no oversight.  In addition, production specifications would be increased to ensure that the product meets standards.

Another aspect of the bills that deals with the issue of oversight states that all devices be installed, maintained, and removed only at a licensed auto repair facility. There would be no exceptions. This way there would be uniformity and some level of guarantee with regard to the work being done properly, which would increase public safety. In addition, all manufacturers of ignition interlock devices would be required to receive an annual recertification from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office.

In a recent statement, Schuitmaker explained her desire to see legislative reform on this issue, “There is currently no certification process for the manufacturers of these devices and no state specifications for those installing and servicing the units. Ensuring the interlock devices are properly installed and not tampered with will save lives and stop these offenders from breaking the law.”

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