LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson’s legislation to expand the use of ignition interlock devices to help keep Michigan roads safe while giving individuals convicted of driving under the influence a legal pathway to restore their driving privileges will soon be sent to the governor after it was approved by the state House on Wednesday.
“The evidence shows us that ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving crashes and deaths and are better at cutting DUI recidivism than just suspending licenses,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “In addition to helping save lives, this change would allow more people to have a legal path to restore their driving privileges — while maintaining critical protections for everyone on our roads.”
Johnson’s bill would allow judges in the state’s drug treatment, mental health, and veterans treatment courts to order the use of an ignition interlock device when appropriate for a defendant. Under current law, only judges in the state’s DWI/sobriety courts can issue such an order. Treatment professionals and judges urged the Legislature to expand this option to the state’s other specialty courts that may also encounter defendants who would benefit from the program.
“We previously strengthened safeguards for this successful program when I was secretary of state,” Johnson said. “To help detour cheating the system, ignition interlock devices in Michigan must now be capable of recording a digital image of the person breathing into the device and they must require random retests while driving.”
An ignition interlock is an in-vehicle device that measures alcohol concentration before enabling a vehicle to start. Eligible individuals who violate the state’s DWI law may be placed in the interlock program and receive a restricted license from the secretary of state after installing an ignition interlock device.
The bills now head back to the Senate for enrollment and presentation to the governor.