MADD Wants Stricter South Carolina DUI Penalties

south carolina dui penalties After a three-year study, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out hard against South Carolina DUI penalties. Long story short, the organization doesn’t believe they are harsh enough to deter drunk drivers, and that the increase in drunk and drugged drivers on the roads is due to the fact that it’s all too easy to avoid a DUI conviction in the state.

To compile the report MADD volunteers sat in on South Carolina DUI court cases, and they put together data that showed a few alarming issues:

Plea deals are a big part of South Carolina DUI cases

Pleading to a lesser offense or taking a deal in a DUI case means that some offenders are avoiding the penalties designed to stop them from drunk driving, and the biggest penalty they are avoiding are ignition interlocks.

Dash cams should be used as evidence

In South Carolina police use dash cams to record their interactions with a suspect, but that dash cam video won’t be used as evidence because there are too many issues with the technology. The program director of MADD South Carolina believes that dash cam recording laws should be changed to allow video evidence from these interactions to stand in a court of law.

South Carolina needs an all offender ignition interlock law

According to Emma’s Law, passed in 2014, any offender arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher will be required to use an interlock for six months. What South Carolina needs is an all offender law that ensures every offender, even someone convicted with a .08 BAC, is required to use an ignition interlock for at least one year.

MADD supports victims and the families of victims after a drunk driving crash, and after three years in various court rooms they would definitely have a good handle on what’s stopping the conviction of possible DUI suspects. South Carolina legislators would do well to take this study into account when making decisions on whether or not it’s time to revise South Carolina DUI penalties.

Why Didn’t Emma’s Law Stop More Drunk Drivers in South Carolina?

drunk driving regulations south carolinaFor a parent, there could be nothing worse than looking a photo of their child and realizing that you can no longer hug them, talk to them, or watch them grow up. But that’s the cold, hard reality for so many parents who have lost a child to drunk driving, and that’s why they stand up and fight for stronger drunk driving regulations like Emma’s Law.

Emma’s Law was named for Emma Longstreet. She was a six-year-old girl from Lexington County, South Carolina who was killed when a drunk driver crashed into her family’s vehicle on New Year’s Day 2012. The man who killed her was a repeat offender, and repeat offenders in the state weren’t required to use ignition interlocks at that time.

The Longstreet family, along with the South Carolina chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), brought Emma’s story to the state legislators and asked that South Carolina pass an all offender ignition interlock law. When Emma’s Law finally passed in 2014, every drunk driver, even first offenders, who are arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher will need to install an ignition interlock in any car they drive.

But according to MADD South Carolina, Emma’s Law is being sabotaged. They’ve released a report where they studied 832 DUI cases during the period of January 1st, 2016 to September 30th, 2016, and they discovered that legal loopholes and  the overall prosecution of DUI cases is much too difficult in the state. The result is plea deals for lesser charges, and when the offender isn’t charge with drunk driving, he or she gets to skip the ignition interlock penalty.

Having an offender skip the interlock penalty means they are free and clear to drink and drive again, and if a repeat offender isn’t restricted from driving, the end result could be the death of an innocent driver or passenger. That was the case for Emma Longstreet.

No parent wants to lose a child to a drunk driver, so it’s vital that South Carolina close their loopholes, tighten up their drunk driving regulations, and stop drunk driving offenders from skipping the interlock program.

It’s Time To Crack Down On South Carolina Liquorcycles

south carolina liquorcyclesIn South Carolina they call them liquorcycles. Florida has tagged them DUI Scooters. Not everyone who drives one has a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction on their record, but mopeds and scooters are fast becoming a problem in many states. That’s why South Carolina has a moped bill on the table, and lawmakers are hoping to regulate this mode of transportation.

Motorized scooters or mopeds are similar to bicycles, but they have a motor with the power to hit speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. You don’t need a driver’s license or insurance to drive one either, and that means they’re often the vehicle of choice for anyone with no driver’s license or a suspended driver’s license due to a DUI conviction.

After a serious crash between a moped and a car in 2015 and an increase in the number of moped fatalities, South Carolina is one state that’s had enough. Lawmakers have proposed Bill H3440, and since it’s already passed the House, all it needs now is to pass the Senate.

If passed, H3440 will require that a moped be registered, carry liability insurance, and cannot be driven on a public road at speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. Anyone who has a suspended driver’s license may not obtain a moped driver’s license or drive a moped during his or her suspension, so using one as a liquorcycle will be off the table.

It’s not going to become law without a fight. Many business owners who sell liquorcycles aren’t happy with the idea of having restrictions on them. If someone who has been convicted of drunk driving can’t drive one due to a license suspension, they won’t buy one as their only means of transportation.

Let’s hope H3440 passes the House. South Carolina Liquorcycles are an easy out for people who need to serve out their suspensions for drunk driving.

Ignition Interlock And DUI Laws In South Carolina

ignition interlock Colorado has been in the news a lot lately, and most of that is due to the debate over the potential felony driving under the influence (DUI) law. But looking beyond Colorado, there are quite a few states that have already set the example with long established felony DUI laws, and South Carolina is one of them.

A first drunk driving offender in the state of South Carolina doesn’t get off with a slap on the wrist, and penalties depend on what his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the time of arrest. For drunk drivers with a BAC under .10, they will receive:

  • 6 month driver’s license suspension
  • Fines of $400
  • Jail time of a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 30 days or 48 hours of public service

If the first offender has a BAC of .10 to .16, they will receive the following:

  • 6 month’s driver’s license suspension
  • Fines of $500
  • Jail time of a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 90 days or 30 days of public service

In 2014, penalties became even tougher for first time DUI offenders in South Carolina with the passing of Emma’s Law. Named after Emma Longsteet, a 6 year old girl who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day 2012, the law requires a first offender with a BAC of .15 or greater to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he or she drives for a six month period. First time offenders with a BAC between .08 to .14 who wish to drive during their period of driver’s license suspension may also opt to install the interlock device, and any offender with a repeat DUI offense will be required to install one.

Repeat offenders also need to be aware that South Carolina has a felony DUI law on the books. A third DUI is considered a felony and the offender will receive the following penalties:

  • Jail time between 60 days to 5 years with no option for community service
  • Fines between $3,800 to $10,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years
  • When driver’s license is reinstated, the driver must use an ignition interlock device

South Carolina DUI laws are strict and deal harshly with all offenders. For more information on South Carolina ignition interlock devices, visit Guardian Interlock’s South Carolina page.

10,000 Expected To Use Ignition Interlock Devices Within 10 years

ignition interlock devices Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been advocating for ignition interlock devices since they started their Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006, and they’ve supported each of the states who have implemented all offender ignition interlock laws in taking that critical step forward.

When South Carolina driving under the influence (DUI) laws changed to include Emma’s Law this past May, MADD was on hand at the signing to support the Longstreet family and Governor Nikki Haley. Named for Emma Longstreet, a six year old girl who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day 2012, the bill requires all convicted drunk drivers, even first time offenders, with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or great to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they drive for six months. First time offenders can also ask for an ignition interlock device instead of the license suspension required as a part of their South Carolina DUI penalties.

Now that Emma’s Law is in place, the number of people using ignition interlock devices is expected to rise. When the law passed, there were only 750 people using ignition interlock devices, but that number is expected to jump to 10,000 in 10 years.

MADD’s statistics on ignition interlock devices demonstrate that they save lives.

Using an ignition interlock has been shown to reduce the likelihood that a driver will drink and drive again by up to 67%. Since they’ve been promoting the devices they have supported 24 states in passing all offender ignition interlock laws and in Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, and Louisiana, they’ve seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 33 to 46%.

That’s a lot of lives saved by one small device, and now that Emma’s Law is fully in place and the number of ignition interlock devices increases South Carolina, the state should see a reduction in DUI deaths as well.

Emma’s Law Puts Guardian Interlock Technology To Good Use

emma-longstreetImagine if it were your daughter.

A little girl who loved Barbies and Littlest Pet Shop, 6-year-old Emma Longstreet was on her way to church with her family on New Year’s Day 2012. A passenger in her father’s minivan, she sustained serious injuries when Billy Patrick Hutto Jr., a drunk driver, crashed into the side of the van. Although her father was seriously injured as well, he was able to recover. Emma died hours after the crash.

When your only daughter dies, how do you live through such a tragedy? For the Longstreet family, one of their focuses became pushing for the passage of Emma’s Law. For more than a year they worked toward the final signing of the law, requiring all repeat and first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher to drive with an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The ceremonial signing took place this past April and the law came into effect this past week.

When he crashed into the Longsteet family van, Mr.Hutto had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20, which is almost triple the legal limit. With a previous DUI conviction on record in 2009, if there had been a law on the books like Emma’s Law in 2012, he would definitely have qualified for an ignition interlock device.

Ignition interlock devices prevent drunk drivers like Hutto from starting their car. Charles McNeill, the South Carolina State Director of Guardian Interlock, was recently asked to demonstrate for ABC News how to submit a breath sample into the device.

WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 – Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Although the threshold at which the device will preventing your vehicle from starting varies by state, even one glass of wine can be enough to fail the test. Mouthwash and other substances with alcohol in them can also trigger a fail, and if you think about having someone else blow into the device to start your vehicle, think again – the Guardian Interlock includes a camera on the dashboard that snaps 3 photos every time you drive.

Until drunk driving is a thing of the past, Emma’s Law will put Guardian Interlock technology to good use by preventing offenders with from getting behind the wheel and driving away while drunk.

If you’d like to learn more about the Longstreet family, please visit the Emma Longstreet Memorial Fund page on Facebook. Information on ignition interlock laws in South Carolina is available here on Guardian Interlock by visiting the South Carolina State Law page.

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