Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Columbia – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) applauds the South Carolina House for passage of Emma’s Law on Thursday April 3 with a vote of 104 to zero. Emma’s Law, S 137, named after six year-old Emma Longstreet who was killed by a drunk driver on January 1, 2012, will now move to the Senate as there have been some changes made by the House.
“We are encouraged by the House’s overwhelming support and expect the Senate to concur and give final approval,” said David Longstreet, Emma’s father. Longstreet has worked tirelessly to organize grass-roots efforts in support of the bill.
South Carolina ranks among one of the worst states in the nation for DUI fatalities. In 2012, 358 people were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver, representing 41 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. Nationally, 31 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk driving. Emma’s Law will reverse this trend as it will expand the use of interlocks for certain first-time offenders.
Under Emma’s Law, first offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 to .15 may elect to use an interlock in order to drive legally in lieu of a license suspension. First-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive. In the event of a repeat offense, the convicted drunk driver with a BAC of .08 and above will be required to install an ignition interlock device to drive.
“Strengthening drunk driving reform is important to ensure that offenders are unable to drive drunk and hurt or kill innocent people in South Carolina. MADD asks the Senate to concur with the House and honor Emma Longstreet, and all victims of drunk driving, and advance this critical legislation,” said MADD South Carolina Vice-President of Public Policy Laura Hudson.
Ignition interlocks are a proven countermeasure to reduce recidivism and most importantly drunk driving deaths. South Carolina requires ignition interlocks for repeat convicted drunk drivers. Throughout the nation, 22 states have passed legislation like Emma’s Law requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers who seek driving privileges during a license suspension period.
?“Drunk driving is a 100 percent preventable crime and South Carolina has a drunk driving problem. Emma’s Law will prevent drunk driving,” said Jan Withers, MADD National President. “Ignition interlocks are proven to protect the public and save lives, while giving convicted drunk drivers the opportunity to continue driving.”
Studies show that a first-time convicted drunk driver is not a first-time offender, but rather it is simply the first time they have been caught. First-time offenders have driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are convicted. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ignition interlocks, on average, reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent.
For more information on interlocks, please visit http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/ignition-interlocks/. For information on interlock laws, please visit:http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/ignition-interlocks/status-of-state-ignition.html.
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