Following the lead of Connecticut and New York, Ohio is the third state to make the knowing manufacture, import, installation or sale of counterfeit airbags a felony. Bill Am HB 177 was sponsored by Republican State Representative Dorothy Pelanda, backed by the Ohio Insurance Institute and the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association and signed into law by governor John Kasich.
Three years ago US Customs intercepted shipments of more than 300 counterfeit airbags on their way to Tennessee that had been sent from Guangzhou Auto Parts in China, incidents that got Chinese native Dai Zhensong sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. In 2011 the number of seized shipments of fake airbags coming into the US rose to 13, in 2012 US Customs seized 65 shipments. To date, thousands of airbags have been confiscated, intercepts have been made at airports in three states and federal prosecutions have been initiated in six states. The trend led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a consumer advisory about the dangers of counterfeit airbags in 2012, citing incidents of copycat airbags not deploying at all or, at the other end, shooting hot shrapnel into the cockpit when they did deploy.
Persons caught distributing counterfeit airbags are charged with a fifth-degree felony on their first offense, moving up to a fourth-degree felony if caught again or their actions result in bodily harm. Each installation or sale is counted as a separate offense.