Michigan bills target drunken drivers

| 6/22/2006

In an effort to make Michigan roads safer, a pair of bills moving through the state Legislature would crack down on the worst of drunken drivers.

One bill would end the practice of removing a drunken driving conviction from a driver's records 10 years after the offense.

Another bill targets people caught driving with blood alcohol content nearly double the 0.08 percent legal threshold in the state. Sponsored by Rep. Daniel Acciavatti, R-Chesterfield Township, the measure would require anyone with at least a 0.15 percent BAC to undergo mandatory alcohol treatment.

It also would mandate that an ignition interlock device be installed on their vehicle for one year. The devices require breath tests to determine if a driver has consumed alcohol. Drivers are required to pay $2.50 per day to blow into the device several times an hour while driving.

Both efforts are intended to reduce the number of repeat offenders in the state, which is estimated to be one-third of the people annually convicted, T he Detroit News reported.

Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, introduced the bill targeting repeat offenders.

He said the bill was inspired by the death of Heidi Steiner. According to The Detroit News , the Bellaire, MI, woman was killed at age 16 in a crash with Daniel Buffman, who was driving drunk.

Buffman had a string of alcohol-related offenses and was sentenced to prison for Steiner's death. Shortly after his release 10 years later, he was again arrested for drunken driving, the newspaper reported.

Michigan's statute of limitations prohibited the first conviction from being taken into account. He was sentenced to 93 days in jail, the maximum for a first-time offender, The Detroit News reported.

Elsenheimer's bill – HB6009 – is awaiting a final vote on the House floor. Acciavatti's bill is expected to be introduced shortly.