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Stalled bills could bring tougher sanctions for drunk drivers

Many men and women that have been touched by the adverse effects of drunk driving in South Carolina are lobbying for the state to take a harder line when it comes to the offense. However, the bill that could put those hopes into action has currently stalled out in the State House.

However, if the bill manages to generate any momentum, it would put those who are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol at an even greater risk of receiving life-changing punishment that could limit their access to motor transportation.

The two current bills stuck in the State House would make it so that even first-time offenders would be forced to install an ignition interlocking device on their vehicles. This mechanism requires a driver to breathe into the device before the vehicle will start. The vehicle will only engage if the driver's breath indicates their blood alcohol content is at .02 or below. The legal limit in South Carolina is .08.

Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are a driving force behind the effort and they are laboring to make sure that the bills pass through the State House. Meanwhile, a senator who penned one of the bills is also trying to push it through the Senate so that it can be voted on.

These efforts are especially applauded by those who have lost a friend or relative to drunk driving. The mother of a 9-year-old girl who was killed in a drunk driving accident attested to the need for the law to pass. The girl and her family were heading to church when a suspected drunk driver plowed into the side of their minivan.

That same man had already been convicted of drunk driving as he pleaded guilty to DUI nine months before the accident. The victim's mother pointed out that had he been forced to install an ignition interlocking device on his vehicle, he would not have been able to start his car and commit the subsequent damage.

Right now, only repeat offenders are forced to install the device in their vehicles.

Source: WISTV.com, "Breathalyzer bills stalled in State House," Jody Barr, April 24, 2012

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