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South Carolina seeks DUI prevention device

Drunk driving is a common and deadly presence on South Carolina's highways. In 2012, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the state suffered 358 deaths in drunk driving car crashes or approximately one fatality every day. This comprised 41 percent of traffic deaths in South Carolina for that year. During this year's holiday season, the NHTSA predicts 45 drunk driving fatalities each day in the United States. The nation suffered 10,322 deaths from drunk driving in 2012.

Activists in South Carolina are attempting to transform a fatal drunk driving crash into legislation, "Emma's Law," that will help save an estimated 100 lives in the state each year. The bill is named after Emma Longstreet who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year's Day almost two years ago. It would mandate that first-time DUI offenders install an ignition interlock system on their cars if their blood alcohol level exceeded .12 when they were arrested. This level roughly equals imbibing six beers in one hour.

The House will consider this measure when it reconvenes in January. Interlock supporters argue that first-time offenders drive while impaired an average of 87 times before being caught and hope that more severe penalties will deter future drunk driving. Activists also said that drunk driving deaths declined by 30 to 45 percent in states that passed offender DUI laws.

This bill is attempting to mitigate an ongoing threat to motorists in South Carolina. Drunk driving accident victims should seek advice on their rights to compensation for injuries and losses suffered in these accidents from an impaired driver or, through a Dram shop liability action, the establishment that served these drivers.

Source: Live 5, WCSC, "New push to put interlock devices in cars of first-time DUI offenders," PJ Randhawa, Dec. 25, 2013

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