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Proposed South Carolina Legislation Will Help Fill Holes in Ignition Interlock Law

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device before getting behind the wheel, and one of its initiatives is passing all-offender ignition interlock laws in every state. And South Carolina might become the latest state to implement this life-saving provision during this year’s legislative session. Gov. Henry McMaster and many lawmakers are pushing for a more extensive law in hopes of preventing drunk drivers from getting on the road.

Current South Carolina Law

In South Carolina, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drivers will be charged with a DUI and face penalties, including fines, jail time and license suspension. Those with a BAC of .15 or higher and those who are charged with a second or subsequent DUI will be required to install an ignition interlock device to regain their suspended license.

South Carolina originally passed legislation in 2007 establishing parameters for the Ignition Interlock Device Program administered by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Service. Legislation passed in 2014 (Emma’s Law) and 2015 helped strengthen the program, but state officials and lawmakers want to make ignition interlock requirements even stronger.

Proposed Legislative Changes

The legislation that is up for a vote during the 2019 South Carolina General Assembly will require all drunk driving offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher to install an ignition interlock device. State officials and lawmakers are hopeful these measures will crack down on first offenders and help strengthen the state’s drunk driving laws. States that have passed similar legislation have seen a 15 percent decrease in drunk-driving deaths.

When South Carolina lawmakers passed Emma’s Law in 2014 (much like proposed laws in other states), they hoped to see more ignition interlock devices on the road. However, a 2017 report from MADD revealed the law wasn’t as effective as lawmakers anticipated as the intended ignition interlock requirement was often sabotaged by plea deals. Legislation under consideration in both the South Carolina Senate and House will help close the gaps in the current law.

If passed, South Carolina will join 32 states and Washington, D.C., in requiring all offenders to install an IID in their vehicle. Research supports the devices are the most effective way to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses and save thousands of lives every year. Learn more about how IIDs save lives.


Categories: Legislation, Drunk Driving

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