Lawmaker proposes changes to SC DUI law

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Two weeks ago, Representative Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, prefiled a bill in the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would mandate officers not be allowed to arrest a driver for a DUI if the person had a blood alcohol level below 0.05.

Right now, the SC law says a driver who has a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher will receive a DUI. But, anything below that level is left to the officer's discretion- whether or not an arrest is made and charges are filed.

Rutherford, also an attorney, said he filed the bill after one of his clients was charged with DUI with a 0.001 blood alcohol level. He said because she only had trace amounts of alcohol in her system, a DUI was unnecessary. The charges were later dropped.

Rutherford said the bill could make it to the House floor as early as February.

This proposal comes at the same time a Florence family is pushing for stiffer DUI laws.

David Shelton, 20, was in a car accident December 7. A 22-year-old woman was driving on the wrong side of the road on US 76 and hit Shelton head on. Shelton received severe damages to his entire body, including several broken bones. Doctors told Shelton he will eventually need a complete knee replacement. Officers told the Shelton family David was lucky to be alive.

Now David Shelton's brother is pushing for stricter DUI laws in South Carolina.

It typically isn't until a person has had their fourth DUI in South Carolina that they lose their license permanently. Jonathan Shelton said that's just one of the components of the law he'd like to change, but he said he can't do it alone.

"If we as a public speak as one to the Congress and House of Representatives, you know just have to make our voice loud and not let our voice die out," Jonathan Shelton said.

David, who isn't expected to walk again for several months, said he hopes his accident can be a wake up call to anyone who doesn't already realize the risk they take when drinking and driving.

"Being 20, you don't really pay much attention because I can't even buy alcohol but definitely after, I'm right there with my brother.  I mean, something's gotta be done because you don't really put that much thought to it until something happens," David Shelton said.

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