MADD report: Emma’s Law is undermined by plea bargains

A just-released MADD report on South Carolina’s DUI arrests and prosecutions says that Emma’s Law, passed in 2014 to save lives and crack down on drunk drivers, is being sabotaged.

Emma’s Law is supposed to require DUI offenders convicted of having a blood alcohol content of .15 or more – even if they are first-time offenders – to use a Ignition Interlock Device. That device hooks up to an offender’s ignition and requires the offender to pass an alcohol breath test before the vehicle can start.

“Getting out of the Ignition Interlock Device requirement is the new bargaining chip in DUI pleas,” the MADD study says.

“These type of arrangements eliminate the life-saving impact of the (Ignition Interlock Device) program,” the study says.

Emma’s Law is named after Emma Longstreet, 6, of Lexington County who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day 2012, a Sunday, as her family was driving to church. A repeat DUI offender who had been drinking all night slammed into the Longstreet van, killing her instantly. It took more than two years of hard lobbying by citizens groups and the Longstreet family to get the law passed.

The main conclusion of the 30-page MADD SC study was that “South Carolina makes the arrest, investigation and prosecution of DUI cases far too difficult.”

The report was made public early Tuesday by the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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