Approachable, Experienced And Dedicated To Our Clients

New Michigan law expands access to ignition interlock devices

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

A bill recently signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could mean more Michigan residents convicted of drinking and driving will have their driving privileges restored — as long as they install an ignition interlock device in their car.

Ignition interlocks are machines that attach to a vehicle’s ignition. The driver exhales into the device, which measures alcohol content. If no or very little alcohol is detected, the device will start the engine. If the ignition interlock detects more than a trace, it will not allow the vehicle to start and notify the authorities.

Thanks to these devices, courts across the country often offer those convicted of OWI/DUI the option of a restricted driver’s license and the use of an ignition interlock as an alternative to the total loss of driving privileges. This option can allow the person to keep driving to work or school as long as they do not drink alcohol first.

More courts can now order ignition interlocks

Judges in Michigan’s OWI and sobriety courts were among those able to order a party to install an ignition interlock at their own expense. Now, thanks to the new law, other specialty courts, including those for drug treatment, mental health and veterans treatment, will have this power too. As Sen. Ruth Johnson, the legislator who sponsored the bills that became the new law, put it, expanded access to ignition interlock sentencing could “allow more people to have a legal path to restore their driving privileges.”

The right strategy for your case

However, seeking an ignition interlock is not available or appropriate in every case. As the defendant, you generally must pay for the device and installation. These expenses are beyond what many people in Grand Rapids can afford when you add in fines, legal bills and other costs. This could affect the legal strategy you and your DUI defense attorney develop.