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New law requires ignition interlock for drivers convicted of DUI

A new bill has recently passed the South Carolina Senate that would require DUI first offenders with blood alcohol percentages over .12 to install ignition interlocks on their vehicles. Currently, those convicted of drunk driving charges for a second time are required to install interlock devices. Under the new law, second and subsequent offenses by drivers with BACs of .08 or higher would still be subject to mandated interlocks, but first-time high-level BAC drivers would also fall under the rule.

Ignition interlock devices require drivers to blow into a tube that records blood-alcohol level before the car will start. A small camera records the driver's image to be sure that the person blowing into the tube is the intended driver.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously, despite admitted problems. For example, there is no real way to keep offenders from renting or leasing a car or borrowing one from a friend or family member. However, statistics show that other states with interlock laws have seen a reduction in DUI fatalities of as much as 50 percent. Some officials in law enforcement think that the penalties for non-compliance are not stiff enough; currently, the fine for failing to install the device is $300, 10 to 30 days in jail, or both. The new bill would raise the fine to $500, jail time to 90 days or six months home detention and an additional six months of interlock requirements. A second offense would mean a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail or home detention up to six months while a third offense would be a felony.

Individuals facing drunk driving charges may benefit from talking to a DUI attorney. In some cases, DUI lawyers could help those charged with drunk driving reduce their fines or sentences.

Source: WJBF News Channel 6, "South Carolina passes tougher DUI bill," Randy Key, Feb. 27, 2013

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