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New South Carolina law expands use of ignition interlock devices

It can happen to almost anyone. You drive to your friend's house for a barbeque. Upon getting there, you have a couple beers and one more with your dinner. An hour after dinner, you leave your friend's house and are soon thereafter pulled over by a police officer who contends you failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Upon being asked where you are coming from, the police officer asks if you've been drinking. Nervous and not wanting to lie, you admit to having a couple of beers.

A DUI arrest and subsequent conviction can have devastating consequences. Hefty fines, driver's license suspension, job loss and potential jail time are just some of the negatives associated with a DUI conviction. For individuals with a prior DUI conviction, these penalties are increased.

The penalties associated with a first-time DUI conviction in South Carolina were recently increased with the passage of a new law know as Emma's Law. Currently individuals convicted of a second DUI are required to install an ignition interlock device in their motor vehicle. When blown into, the device measures whether the individual has alcohol in their system. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start or will signal an alarm.

Currently about 730 drivers across South Carolina are required to use ignition interlock devices. However, with the passage of Emma's law, that number is expected to significantly increase as individuals convicted of a first-time DUI will now also be required to install the devices.

The new law mandates the use of ignition interlock devices for all first-time DUI offenders who record a blood alcohol content level of .12. Proponents of the law believe that targeting first-time DUI offenders will help reduce repeat offenses, while opponents voice concerns about the devices' reliability.

Source: WBTW-TV, ""Emma's Law" creates stricter penalties for DUI offenders," April 30 The State, "Emma's law: Safety activists try to toughen laws they say coddle potential DUI killers," John Monk, March 18, 2014  

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