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Emma's Law may have a lasting negative impact on DUI defendants

A recent posting on this blog discussed a bill that has been introduced to the South Carolina Senate that, if it passes, would require certain first time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Additional information regarding the requirements of this proposed legislation has been released. In addition, a family who lost their daughter to an accident involving a drunk driver are standing behind the bill and pushing to have it passed. The driver of that accident was charged with felony DUI.

The accident occurred over a year ago on New Year's Day in 2012. A 26-year-old driver ran into the side of a family's van. This accident unfortunately caused the death of a six-year-old passenger. Her father also sustained injuries from the impact. Therefore, the driver was charged with two counts of felony DUI -- one count for causing death and one count for causing bodily harm.

After the accident, the injured man began advocating for the prevention of drunk driving by enacting stricter drunk driving laws. He has therefore, become an advocate for the IID bill that is currently sitting before the Senate. In fact, lawmakers are considering naming the bill "Emma's Law" after the man's six-year-old daughter.

This bill would have very serious ramifications for those that are charged and convicted of driving while intoxicated and felony DUI. If the bill passes, those that are required to install an IID in their vehicle would have to pay a $75 installation fee and also a $100 per month maintenance fee. In addition, it would repeal the current requirement for license suspension after conviction of a DUI and instead require the IID installation. Advocates of the bill say that other states with an IID requirement have seen at least a 50 percent decrease in DUI-related deaths.

These would be significant changes to South Carolina's current DUI laws. Drivers who are convicted of DUI and felony DUI already face serious penalties, but those penalties may soon become even more severe. If the bill passes, proponents are hoping for a 2014 implementation.

Source: Lexington Patch, "Emma Longstreet's Father Pushes For Tougher DUI Laws," Tiffany Barkley, Feb. 13, 2013

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