Bill would facilitate in-car breathalyzers for teens

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill that unanimously passed the Michigan Senate Tuesday aims to give parents more power in making sure their kids don’t drink and drive.

In Michigan, ignition interlock devices, which prevent a vehicle from starting if a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .025 or higher, are required for habitual drunk drivers with a restricted license.

But what about an in-car breathalyzer without a court order attached to it? State Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored the new legislation, is pushing to make those devices more available.

“This legislation would enable parents to install an ignition interlock device on their car to help prevent drinking and driving,” Jones said in a release after the bill was passed.

Technically, parents can already do that. But companies who make the breathalyzers are currently required to send data collected from the devices to the Secretary of State.

Jones’ legislation would allow companies to make similar devices for parents to purchase without data collection, cutting down on time and cost for the manufacturers and keeping kids’ data private and away from the government.

“I have heard from many parents of young drivers who would like to voluntarily install a breath alcohol interlock device on their family car but do not want the government involved,” Jones said in a release. “Michigan parents should be able to use current technology to stop their children from making a life-changing mistake while still maintaining a reasonable level of privacy.”

“I think this sounds like a great idea,” Kent County Undersheriff Michelle Young said Tuesday when asked about the legislation. “It is not feasible for law enforcement to find every person, every young person who’s making a bad decision.”

Young said the devices could help prevent a bad decision from being made. She said she has already heard parent groups ask for something similar.

At the minimum, the devices cost a few hundred dollars, according to Jones.

Young thinks parents would be willing to pay that.

“This would be a market that parents would be interested in, having that extra tool to keep their young person safe,” she said.

Jones told 24 Hour News 8 that his bill would make the devices more commercially available, in turn making the market more competitive and driving costs down.

The legislation, Senate Bill 0892, now heads to the state House of Representatives.

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