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New bill takes aim at South Carolina repeat DUI offenders

How much do you think a DUI death costs the state of South Carolina? About $10,000? What about $100,000? Well, if you guessed nearly $5 million, you might be right. A recent study showed that a single DUI fatality can cost millions of dollars; when you consider the frequency of drunk driving crashes, the amount of money spent on these cases easily becomes staggering.

That is just one reason that a South Carolina dad says he is fighting for a bill named after his daughter, Emma, who died in 2012 at age 6. The child perished in a New Year's Day crash, and the alleged drunk driver is now facing a nine-year prison term. A new measure up for consideration in the statehouse would probably save lives and money, and it would stiffen penalties for those facing drunk driving charges.

The new legislation would mandate the use of ignition interlocks for drivers who have committed two or more driving while intoxicated violations. First-time offenders with blood alcohol content levels of 0.12 percent or higher would also be subject to the interlock installation. Ignition interlocks prevent drivers from starting their vehicles until a successful breath test has been completed. Random tests also occur while the subject is driving.

Opponents of the new legislation have argued that interlocks are not necessary for those with a 0.12 percent BAC level. Instead, they propose raising that level to 0.15 percent. It is not clear whether that concession will be successful.

South Carolina residents who are accused of drunk driving charges may benefit from the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Whether this is the first offense or the fifth, a criminal defense attorney may be able to provide information to help educate clients about their legal rights and options. A defense attorney can prove to be a valuable asset and ally in state courtrooms.

Source: WMBF News, "Father behind 'Emma's Law' hopes to put pressure on lawmakers this session" Jennifer Emert, Mar. 06, 2014

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