Emma’s Law to help reduce DUIs

  • Friday, April 18, 2014

Gov. Haley

Since April 15, 2013 the Summerville Police Department has investigated 165 Driving Under the Influence cases.

With a new bill that has been passed in the state, Cpt. Jon Rogers expects that number to go down this year.

Recent news reports state on April 14 South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a law, known as Emma’s Law, requiring people who have been convicted of DUI to install an interlock mechanism in their car that will not let the owner operate his or her vehicle if the driver has been drinking.

News reports indicate the law requires anyone with a first conviction for DUI with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or greater to get an ignition interlock device for six months.

The device tests a driver’s breath and will not allow the car to start if a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 percent or greater is detected.

The law is named after a 6-year-old girl who was killed in a DUI incident in January 2012.

Rogers is highly supportive of the bill, and said he feels over the next year SPD will have fewer DUI cases.

“I don’t know how many of those (165) were repeat offenders,” he said, “but I’m sure on a state level it will bring down the number of DUIs.”

Rogers said the locking mechanisms will be court mandated; the police will not be installing the devices inside cars.

Rogers also said he is sure a lot of states in the country already exercise Emma’s Law, if not something similar.

“Anything that will keep down someone impaired on the road is a good thing,” he said.

While there is always a possibility for mechanical failure with the interlock mechanisms, Rogers said he believes the car will just stayed locked.

“It appears that it pretty much locks people out on the side of precaution,” he said. “Worst case scenario, they won’t be able to drive their car.”

Meanwhile, Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight said he has not really researched the law but has a lot of questions about it -- whether or not a person could a person convicted of a DUI possibly have access to another vehicle other than their own, and whether or not a convicted person would be exempt from jail time.

Knight said he supports anything that law enforcement can do to fight drinking and driving.

“I don’t know how much it (Emma’s Law) will help,” he said.

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