Michigan House OKs bills to curb drunk drivers

| 10/19/2007

A legislative package halfway through the Michigan statehouse is intended to make the state’s roadways safer by cracking down on extremely drunken drivers and repeat offenders.

House lawmakers approved legislation that would require repeat offenders and drivers with a blood alcohol content, or BAC, higher than 0.15 percent to install breath-testing ignition interlocks on their vehicles for at least one year. The legal definition of drunken driving in the state is a reading of 0.08 percent or higher.

The interlock is hooked up to the ignition of the vehicle. Once the device is installed, a driver must blow into a mouthpiece, which measures the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. If the driver blows clean, the car will then start; if not, it won’t budge.

In addition, the devices often require drivers to re-blow in the machine after a designated period of time to ensure that they have not convinced someone else to blow into the mouthpiece for them, or that they haven’t been drinking since getting behind the wheel.

Drunken-driving offenders who install the interlock device could get back on the road in 45 days. Michigan law now mandates a year-long license suspension.

Sponsored by Rep. Marc Corriveau, D-Northville, the bill also would require people found guilty of extreme drunken driving to complete a rehabilitation program.

The legislative package – HB4920, HB4921 and HB4289 – is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor