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The connection between high breath tests and wrong-way crashes

Drinking and driving can have a tragic outcome. A connection has recently been drawn between fatal wrong-way crashes and drivers with a high breath test. This may have an impact on how drivers facing DUI charges are punished going forward in South Carolina.

A recent study provided interesting results when it comes to drunk driving. According to the results, a majority of the fatal wrong-way highway crashes are caused by drivers with a blood alcohol level two times or more over the legal limit. Of the almost 1,600 wrong-way crashes occurring between 2004 and 2009, 59 percent of the accidents involved drivers with a BAC of twice the legal limit. An additional 10 percent involved drivers with a BAC between .08 and .14.

In South Carolina, the penalty for a high breath test can already be very serious. Drivers that blow higher than a .15 are subject to an automatic and immediate revocation of their driver's license for at least 60 days. As if this isn't severe enough, after seeing the results of the wrong-way crash data some officials are suggesting that all states implement the required installation of an ignition interlock device after a first DUI offense.

An IID is designed to prevent individuals from driving under the influence of alcohol. It is a mechanism that is installed into a vehicle and the driver must blow into it to register that he or she is not under the influence of alcohol before being able to start the vehicle.

Although this may seem harmless, IIDs create a lot of difficulties and expenses. Generally, when a driver has an IID installed, they must not only provide proof of installation but are also often required to have the device regularly inspected. The driver is almost always required to pay for all fees associated with the device. In addition to the installation and inspection fees, there are usually fees for calibration, monitoring, security deposit and device insurance. All in all, these can be expensive and unnecessary punishments for first time DUI offenders.

Source: SCNow, "Wrong-way driving crashes claim hundreds of lives," Dec. 11, 2012

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