On January 1, 2012 in South Carolina, a 26-year-old driver ran his vehicle into the side of a family’s car, killing six-year-old Emma and injuring her father, David Longstreet. The driver, who was under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred, was charged with two counts of felony DUI.
Since the accident, Longstreet has been advocating that the state enact stricter drunk driving laws. Most recently, he’s become an advocate for a DUI-related bill that was passed by South Carolina’s Senate in February 2013.
The bill, which lawmakers are considering naming “Emma’s Law,” would revoke the current requirement of license suspension for DUI offenders and instead require offenders, even first-time DUI offenders, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle – a solution that has decreased DUI-related deaths by 50 percent in other states. The IID would measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level when he or she breathes into the device. The device would prevent the vehicle from starting if it detects a BAC that’s .02 or higher.
Offenders required to install an IID would also be required to pay a $75 installation fee and a $100 per month maintenance fee. However, offenders would only be required to install the device if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level was .12 or higher upon arrest. Otherwise, they would be able to choose between an IID or a six-month license suspension.
The bill was introduced to the House in early March. If it passes the House vote this year, Emma’s Law will be implemented by 2014.