As DUI defense lawyers in Charleston, we keep an eye out for any changes in South Carolina’s legislation regarding DUI offenses. One recent change is referred to as “Emma’s Law.” This new law takes effect on October 1, 2014. The purpose of Emma’s Law, named for a girl who lost her life in a drunk driving car crash, is to stiffen the consequences of South Carolina’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws. The following are some of the significant changes resulting from Emma’s Law.

Ignition Interlock Device Program in South Carolina

Under Emma’s law, first-time DUI offenders who had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or greater will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for 6 months. People convicted of a 2nd DUI or DUAC are required to install the device for 2 years. The amount of time required for the device can vary depending on various factors. In some situations where the Ignition Interlock Program is not mandatory, offenders may be able to shorten suspension times if they voluntarily enter the Ignition Interlock Program. If a South Carolina resident is convicted of a DUI-type offense in another state, the South Carolina DMV will require the resident to have an ignition interlock device as well.  There is a complicated system in place regarding the monitoring of the ignition interlock and how violations of the program can result in additional suspensions and penalties.

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Ignition Interlock Device Program

To learn more about the Program, who it applies to, how long it lasts, and the penalties for violation the Program, then our article explaining the Program is a MUST READ!
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Immobilization of Vehicles of Repeat Offenders

If a person is convicted of a second or greater DUI or DUAC, and the person does not enter the Ignition Interlock Program, that person’s vehicles will be “immobilized,” meaning the person will have to surrender the license plates and registrations of any vehicles owned by that person. If a vehicle is titled solely or jointly in the person’s name, but the person’s spouse is the primary driver of the vehicle and has no other vehicle, the spouse might be able to get the car back after making certain promises to the DMV. Driving an immobilized vehicle, even while sober, constitutes a new crime.

Enhanced Suspension for Persons Under 21 Years of Age

If a person under 21 refuses to give a breath sample, the person will be suspended for 6 months. However, if a person had a conviction for DUI within the previous 5 years, that person’s suspension will be for one year.  Emma’s law shortens the time so that if the person had a conviction for DUI within the previous 3 years, the suspension will be for one year.

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Charleston DUI Attorneys

Ultimately, Emma’s Law’s biggest effect is expanding the use of the ignition interlock device in South Carolina. There are some flaws to the device, as it can give false positives, but we expect that you will see a decrease in the number of drunk driving crashes where the drunk driver had a prior DUI record.

If you are charged with DUI or were injured by someone who was driving while intoxicated, contact the attorneys at Futeral & Nelson to discuss your rights.

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