Offenders convicted of drunk driving in South Carolina face stiff penalties that include suspension of driver’s license, incarceration, hefty fines, mandatory participation in alcohol and drug safety programs, license reinstatement fees, insurance surcharges, and in some cases, installation of an ignition interlock device. While the laws against drunk driving in the state are routinely enforced, many members of the advocacy group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), feel tougher laws could save more lives.
MADD advocates are lobbying to have a bill passed that would require those convicted of drunk driving to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. Currently, South Carolina law mandates an ignition interlock device on cars of those convicted of drunk driving offenses with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15 percent or higher.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device prevents a driver from starting their car if the presence of alcohol is detected on their breath. The device is a mobile breathalyzer hooked up to the ignition system. The driver must blow into the breathalyzer before starting their car. If alcohol is detected, the ignition is locked, and the driver cannot start the car.
Since 2014 when South Carolina required ignition interlock devices on cars, 1,648 cars were prevented from starting when alcohol was detected on the driver’s breath. MADD advocates believe that expanding the law to include ignition interlock devices on the cars of all drivers convicted of drunk driving will save even more lives. Drivers that are required to install the technology on their car must pay for the device itself and its installation. Lawmakers hope that this will be an added incentive to deter people from drinking and driving and potentially causing a wreck.
Current Interlock Laws
South Carolina’s current ignition interlock laws only apply to second time and successive offenders. MADD wants the law changed to include all drivers that are convicted with a BAC of .08 percent or greater, whether it is their first offense or subsequent offense. Those who refuse to install the device will be subject to a three-year suspension of their driver’s license. Drivers are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the device and to ensure that the unit is inspected by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole every 60 days.
The big question is whether making ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drunk driving offenses will further reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads. With the criminal and administrative penalties already imposed, some say extending the law will have minimal impact. MADD members and other drunk driving advocates disagree. If close to 2,000 offenders were prohibited from getting behind the wheel in two years, they say the number will grow if the ignition interlock devices are required for all offenders.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Victims of Drunk Drivers
Drunk driving accidents are completely preventable events. Victims that are injured by a drunk driver may be eligible for compensation. The Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. work diligently to ensure that their clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available. Call us at 803-929-3600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.
Our offices are conveniently located throughout South Carolina and we serve clients across the state, including in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.