Schuitmaker bills would enhance public safety with new BAIID standards

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — A package of bills that aims to reduce drunk driving offenses, introduced by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, was voted out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary Tuesday.

Senate Bills 175, 176, and 357 would create oversight and accountability for the manufacturers of breath alcohol interlock ignition devices (BAIID).

A BAIID is 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.

Under current law, some drivers may be court mandated to have a BAIID installed on their vehicle as a condition of keeping driving privileges after conviction of various alcohol related crimes. More than 8,000 of these devices have been installed in the past three years alone.

“Without a certification process for manufacturers and those who install and service the devices, our current program lacks integrity,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.

“Someone you can find on Craigslist may be on the list of installers that a manufacturer uses. These installers, who may not have any technical or mechanical expertise, will meet drivers in a fast food restaurant parking lot to install the device and offer advice on how to get around the system for a few extra bucks.”

Without proper licensure of these installers, there is no way to sanction any individuals guilty of this practice. This legislation would require annual certification from the Michigan Department of State for manufacturers, increase requirements for service centers in the state, and establish certification requirements for those who install BAIIDs.

“This really comes down to an issue of public safety,” Schuitmaker said. “By increasing oversight of the ignition interlock program, we can ensure more drivers are complying with the law and our families are safe on the roads.”

SBs 175, 176, and 357 now head to the full Senate for consideration.