Tougher DUI restrictions passed by lawmakers earlier this year, known as “Emma’s Law,” go into effect Wednesday.
The law is aimed at curbing drunken driving by using what’s known as an “ignition interlock device” on cars belonging to individuals who were convicted of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of more than .15 percent.
South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services spokesman Peter O’Boyle said the offender must blow into the device for his or her car to start. He said a convicted driver will have to use it for at least six months.
“We have spent months training and preparing for Emma’s Law and had to rebuild our computer systems to implement it,” SCDPPPS Director Kela Thomas said in a statement. “But it will be worth it to enhance the safety of our state’s streets and highways.”
The law is named after 6-year-old Emma Longstreet, a Lexington girl who was killed after a repeat drunk driving offender hit her family’s car on New Year’s Day 2012. Emma’s parents David and Karen Longstreet worked to get the bill passed in the state legislature. Governor Nikki Haley signed the measure into law in April.
Another section of the new law requires any person convicted of DUI at least twice to install the device if they ever want to drive legally again. Previously, a driver could “wait out” their suspension period.
All users of ignition interlocks will now have to upgrade the devices to include cameras. DPPPS officials said this requirement is meant to prevent others from blowing into the breathalyzer on the driver’s behalf to get a car started.
There are similar laws in 35 other states.
Bill Dubensky contributed to this report