LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation by Sen. Ruth Johnson 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.
“Research has shown that ignition interlock devices are more effective in reducing DUI recidivism than license suspensions alone,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “These programs have also been proven to reduce drunk driving crashes and deaths. This change allows more people in our state to have a legal path to restore their driving privileges, while also protecting other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.”
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.
“This has been a successful program and we were also able to strengthen safeguards when I was secretary of state,” Johnson said. “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. This has really detoured cheating.”
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 driving while intoxicated (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.
Senate Bills 134 and 135 would create the Specialty Court Interlock Program and apply the current requirements for the DWI/Sobriety Court Interlock Program to the new program and expand its use to all specialty courts.
The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.