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Emma’s Law Reforms DUI Punishments in South Carolina

Legislators in South Carolina had great success in DUI reform this summer. South Carolina, previously criticized for being lax on drunk driving offenses, passed “Emma’s Law,” a law requiring an interlock device to start cars for DUI offenders. The law is named in honor of a 6-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 2012. Under the new legislation, anyone, including first-time offenders, who submits to a breathalyzer test and blows above a .15 will be required to have an interlock device in any car that they drive in the subsequent six months. First-time offenders may also use an interlock in lieu of a license suspension in the event their blood alcohol contact is between a .08 and .14.

Interlock Devices

Interlock systems are becoming commonplace among jurisdictions looking to reduce their DUI deaths. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, South Carolina is not the first state to introduce interlock-focused legislation. Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, and Louisiana have implemented similar laws, and their DUI rates have diminished by 33 to 46 percent.

An interlock device is a device connected to the ignition system of a vehicle. The device has a spot where the driver can blow into it (similar to a breathalyzer test) and it will detect any alcohol in the driver’s system. If there is a certain amount of alcohol (usually greater than .02) in the driver’s system, the car will not start. These devices can be expensive and must be paid for out of the convicted driver’s pocket, but the privilege of being able to continue driving is significant for most drivers.

The rationale behind implementing interlock system requirements stems from the fact that studies show having a suspended license does not necessarily decrease the convicted driver’s chances of driving anyway. This realization shifted punishments away from suspended licenses, realizing that three in four people simply ignore the punishment and hope they do not get caught. If statistically a previously convicted drunk driver is going to drive anyway, the best mechanism is to prevent their own car from starting if they are intoxicated. Granted, they could always drive another car, but the success stories from the states that have already implemented similar regulations show that despite this possibility, this law is keeping more people safe on the roads.

DUI Injuries in South Carolina

While Emma’s Law has proven effective in reducing DUI deaths on South Carolina roads, determined drunk drivers still plague our roadways. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At Solomon Law Group, we understand that the circumstances surrounding these types of claims are sensitive and emotional in nature; our South Carolina accident and injury attorneys are prepared to help you navigate the system and ensure the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Serving the greater Columbia, South Carolina area, our knowledgeable attorneys are always available to hear about your case and help you through this difficult time. Contact us today.

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