'Emma's Law' adds ignition interlock consequence to DUI charges

Published: Apr. 15, 2014 at 3:48 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2014 at 11:27 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (SC) - There are many cons to drinking and driving: extensive fines, car insurance through the roof, court appearances, and jail time, to name a few. But all of these things don't fix the biggest consequence of all. It puts every human life on the road in danger. Emma's Law is named after Emma Longstreet, who died at just six years old when a drunk driver hit her family's car on New Years Day 2012.

Governor Haley signed Emma's Law on Monday. The law states that anyone charged with a DUI that blows a .15 or higher will have an ignition interlock installed in their car. With an interlock installed, a car will not start if the driver blows a .02, and it will recheck the driver throughout the drive.

Local law enforcement and law firms in the area agree this is a problem here. Horry County had 1,100 DUI-related arrests in 2012 and by the end of 2013, numbers were on the rise. Justin Lovely from the Lovely Law firm says starting now, they get 5 to 10 calls per week and 90 percent of his cases are DUI related. He hopes that this new interlock system will prevent people from drinking and driving, but he speculates some resistance.

"We will see a lot of refusal," Lovely said. "We'll also see probably more jury trials, because if you've got that interlock device hanging over your head where you blew really high, you're going to want to take that to trial."

Sergeant Jeff Benton from the Horary County Sheriff's office believes this system will work. People will realize that this will be in their cars no matter what. He says it will be an every day thing that people have to go through with, whether they are going to the corner store or to church. He says like any other new system there will be flaws. People will try to cheat the system, but they will be there to make it better.

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