South Carolinians may have heard about a law passed in 2014 called “Emma’s Law.” But, what is it, and how does it impact drivers and potentially drunk drivers in the state?
History of the Law
The namesake of South Carolina’s Emma’s Law is Emma Longstreet. Longstreet, a six-year-old girl, was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 2012. Following Emma’s death, her parents David and Karen Longstreet worked tirelessly to change South Carolina’s DUI laws. In May 2014, the state legislature passed and Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation that instituted new requirements on those drivers convicted of violating the state’s DUI laws.
New Ignition Interlock Requirements
Under Emma’s Law, the state established new penalties for certain DUI offenses.
Under the law, all offenders who are found to have a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of .15 or greater automatically have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles. The convicted driver will be required to keep that device on his or her car for six months. Also, first-time offenders with BACs between .08 and .14 may have the option of either installing an ignition interlock device or face having his or her license suspended. Further, for repeat offenders, ignition interlock devices must be installed on vehicles automatically.
Measuring Blood Alcohol Content
Blood alcohol content is the measure of alcohol to one’s blood by percentage. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream after it is consumed and is absorbed quickly as well within about 30 to 70 minutes of consuming the beverage. The number of drinks, the speed in which one drinks the alcohol beverages, one’s weight, and whether the person is drinking on an empty stomach or not, will determine the BAC of someone.
As a result of the various factors that can influence BAC level, it is difficult to provide exact BAC guidelines just based on the number of drinks that one consumes. Individuals need to be very careful and aware of their physical well-being when drinking and to take appropriate safe actions to avoid breaking the law or endangering oneself or others.
Cost of Interlock Devices to be Borne by Offenders
Under the law, those who are required to obtain interlock devices on vehicles must pay to purchase and install the device as well as the cost to monitor the device.
The cost of these devices is far from cheap. The ignition interlock device itself may cost about $1,000. And the monitoring costs are about $100 per month. As such, if a driver is required to use an ignition interlock device for six months, the total cost could be about $1,600.
Contact a Knowledgeable DUI Attorney for Help
If you have any questions about DUI cases for yourself or a loved one, you should consider seeking legal guidance as soon as possible. The Bateman Law Firm is prepared to help you craft a solid defense if you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Greenville or the surrounding region.