These preventable deaths led to the creation of Emma's Law and the implementation of ignition interlock laws across the state. The law mainly requires certain individuals convicted of drunk driving to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.
So, what is Emma's Law in South Carolina, and why is it so important? Let's take a moment to understand better the law, its purpose, and how it works.
What is Emma's Law in South Carolina?
Emma's Law is an offender ignition interlock law that requires certain first-time DUI and subsequent offenders of driving under the influence to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. The law was enacted in 2014 after the tragic death of a six-year-old girl, Emma Longstreet, who was killed by an impaired driver with a blood alcohol content of three times the legal limit.
Under Emma's Law, individuals convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher and those who refuse a breath test must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for at least six months. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol content between 0.08 and 0.14 may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed, depending on the circumstances of their case.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol ignition interlock device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has a BAC above a predetermined limit.
Think of it like this: an ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer installed in your vehicle. Every time you get into the car, you have to blow into the device, which will detect if there's any alcohol in your breath. If alcohol is detected, the car won't start. This ensures that the offender cannot drive under the influence of alcohol.
The device may also require the driver to provide random breath samples while driving to ensure they remain sober.
How Effective Is Emma's Law at Preventing DUI Car Accidents?
Since implementing Emma's Law, South Carolina has significantly decreased drunk-driving accidents and drunk-driving deaths. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, DUI-related deaths have decreased by 41 percent since the law's implementation. Although, in recent years, the number of DUI-related deaths has increased slightly due to other factors, such as an increase in drug-impaired driving.
Also, the ignition interlock program has successfully prevented drunk driving, with hundreds of interlock devices installed in South Carolina vehicles each year. This means that there are fewer people driving drunk on the roads due to Emma's Law.
What's more? The interlock requirement is effective in deterring repeat offenders. In fact, the recidivism rate for interlocked offenders is 17.5 percent, compared to a 25.3 percent recidivism rate among individuals who are not interlocked. What this hopes to show is that ignition interlock devices are an effective way to prevent drunk driving crashes.
What Happens if I Violate the Ignition Interlock Device Program in South Carolina?
Violating the ignition interlock device program in South Carolina can result in severe penalties, including fines, jail time, and mandatory license suspension. For example, if a drunk driver fails to install the device in their vehicle or attempts to start the car with an interlock device, they may face fines of up to $5,000 and at least 30 days in jail.
Did You Know? South Carolina has some of the strictest laws for drunk driving offenders in the United States. This should not sound surprising when you consider the fact that in 2014, South Carolina had almost 300 drunk driving fatalities.
Furthermore, any violation of the interlock program can result in a one-year driving suspension, in addition to any other penalties received for the DUI offense. Moreover, if a drunk driver is caught driving with an expired or deactivated interlock device, they may be charged with alcohol-impaired driving.
If you are facing an ignition interlock violation, it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer to protect your rights and driving privileges.
Call Touma Law Group Today for a Free Consultation
In our everyday life, innocent victims suffer life-changing injuries from motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired drivers. The implementation of Emma's Law in South Carolina has successfully reduced the number of DUI-related deaths and accidents by requiring certain offenders to have an ignition interlock restriction device installed in their vehicles.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI or has violated the ignition interlock program in South Carolina, the experienced attorneys at Touma Law Group are here to help. Our knowledgeable attorneys can advise you of your rights and provide the best legal defense for your case.
For a free consultation, you can discuss this with one of our criminal defense attorneys. We are dedicated to protecting our clients' rights and getting them the best outcome possible.