Schuitmaker bills aim to reduce drunk driving offenses, protect motorists

LANSING, Mich.—State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced a package of bills this week to reduce drunk driving offenses. Senate Bills 174-176 would create oversight for the manufacturers of breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

Currently, sobriety court programs allow offenders the option to participate in a program that grants them a restricted driver’s license if their vehicle is outfitted with an interlock device. More than 8,000 of these interlock devices have been installed for drivers in the past three years alone.

Interlock devices are a type of breathalyzer installed on a vehicle’s ignition panel. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must exhale into the device. The blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured and will kill the ignition signal if the level is above the minimum threshold. The driver is also required to intermittently be tested throughout their drive.

“These interlock devices stop people from driving with alcohol in their systems, but right now we do not have enough oversight to ensure that they are being used properly,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “There is currently no certification process for the manufacturers of these devices and no state specifications for those installing and servicing the units.”

This legislation would require annual BAIID certification from the Michigan Department of State for manufacturers and increase requirements for service centers in the state.

“This really comes down to an issue of public safety,” Schuitmaker said. “Ensuring the interlock devices are properly installed and not tampered with will save lives and stop these offenders from breaking the law.”

Under the bills, installation, maintenance and removal of interlock devices would only be permitted at licensed auto repair facilities. Providing additional requirements and certification processes would increase accountability for those manufacturing, installing, and servicing these devices.

Senate Bills 174-176 have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.