Emma's law goes into effect in South Carolina

Emma's law goes in effect in South Carolina

(WFXG) - We often hear about people losing their lives from the irresponsible actions of others. We see ads,  organizations and families stressing the importance of not drinking and driving. But for residents of South Carolina, officials are making some major changes.

"Anything that can deter people from driving while intoxicated and it can bring down the fatality rate is a good thing," said John Johnson.

South Carolina is ranked as one of the worst states for DUI fatalities.

Aiken Department of Public Safety, Lt.. Jason Mahoney said  "approximately 40% of the facilities on South Carolina roadways are attributed to alcohol and or impaired drivers."

It's a program that's been around. After the death of six year old, Emma Longstreet, who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year's Day back in 2012. Something needed to be put in place immediately.

"I think it's good for the community. They are still giving them a second chance," said Keith Holland.

The ignition interlock device is a small breath analyzer that is connected to the vehicle ignition system. The driver must blow in order to start the vehicle. If a driver's blood-alcohol content is above the pre-set level of .02 for South Carolina, the vehicle will not start.

"Those systems are monitored by the South Carolina Department of probation, parole and pardon and they are required in any vehicle they have to operate. The drivers are required to pay a fee for installation as well as a monitoring fee for the device," said Mahoney.

There are other states that have this program, Louisiana, Arizona, Oregon, and New Mexico and after seeing major reduction in DUI deaths, South Carolina officials have great hopes

"We've been very proactive in Aiken public safety and our DUI enforcement efforts," said Mahoney. "We've received great support from our community and we look forward to continued success and having Emma's Law to back us up."

"You know people should be more responsible. I think in this state more than any there is a lack of responsibility, so I think it's a good idea," said Johnson.

"It would help and it would help save some lives and even their life," said Holland.

Emma's Law applies to anyone charged with DUI on or after October 1.

Officials say the DUI rate has been declining over the years since 2012 and with this new program, they should see a major difference.

But for now it's too early to tell.

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