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South Carolina considering strengthening drunk driving laws

An officer performs a field sobriety test on a male suspected of drunk driving.

Experienced drunk driving accident lawyers explain what you need to know

Drunk driving accidents remain a serious problem in South Carolina and many other states around the country. Each year, hundreds of people die in car accidents caused by drunk drivers in South Carolina.

But some residents and lawmakers want to do something to prevent such tragic accidents. That’s why state lawmakers in South Carolina recently proposed to strengthen the state’s drunk driving laws in an effort to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents statewide.

“It’s so hard to understand why this isn’t getting done. It’s simple, the statistics are there,” said David Longstreet in an interview in support of the proposed legislation with News Channel 13 in Columbia, South Carolina.

The proposed legislation is nicknamed Emma’s Law after Longstreet’s daughter, who was killed in a drunk driving accident at the age of 6.

How bad are drunk driving accidents in South Carolina?

Accidents caused by drunk drivers wreak havoc on our nation’s roads. One out of 4 fatal accidents nationwide (25%) involve drivers under the influence of alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And each year, an estimated 10,100 people die and 290,000 are injured nationwide in drunk driving accidents.

As for South Carolina, the numbers are even worse compared to many other states. South Carolina ranked 8th in the country when it comes to fatal car accidents caused by drunk drivers in 2018, according to statistics compiled by the NHTSA. Specifically, South Carolina had the 8th highest percentage of fatal traffic accidents nationwide (28%) due to drunk drivers. Over the past 5 years, the state’s average is even worse. A total of 30.3% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina occurred due to drunk drivers. That’s 305 drunk driving deaths out of 1,005 total traffic fatalities on average each year statewide, according to NHTSA statistics.

What changes are being proposed to South Carolina’s drunk driving law?

Faced with such sobering statistics, many residents and politicians in South Carolina have expressed strong support for adopting Emma’s Law, which is officially known as South Carolina Bill 28 (S.28).

If approved, Emma’s Law would make several changes to South Carolina’s existing drunk driving laws, including:

  • All convicted DUI offenders in South Carolina would be required to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This prevents the driver from starting the vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than a pre-set limit.
  • The amount of time the ignition interlock device must be installed in a convicted DUI driver’s vehicle would be longer. It would be based on the driver’s number of DUI convictions.
  • Drivers who have had their license suspended due to being stopped or arrested for driving under the influence would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle before they can get a temporary driver’s license, which would close a loophole in the state’s current drunk driving law.

South Carolina’s State Senate voted 41-1 in favor of Emma’s Law in April, according to News Channel 13. The proposed law still requires approval by the State House before it can be signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster.

Johnson + Johnson fights for the rights of crash victims

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in South Carolina? Learn more about your legal rights. Schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer at Johnson + Johnson Attorneys at Law in Lexington. We can answer your questions and explain the legal options available to you. Contact us right now.

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