Car Ignition Locks Urged For All SC Drunk Drivers

Every person convicted of DUI in South Carolina – even first-time offenders – would have to pass a breathalyzer test before being able to start their cars if one state legislator gets his way.

Currently, a so-called ignition interlock device is required only for those who have at least two DUI convictions in the Palmetto State.

But state Senator Joel Lourie, a Democrat from Columbia, said he intends to file a bill in the upcoming General Assembly session requiring ignition interlock even for DUI first-offenders.

More than a quarter million people in the U.S. are injured in alcohol-related crashes each year. Every 31 minutes someone is killed in a car accident involving alcohol – and every two minutes someone is injured.

Mandatory ignition interlock for all DUI offenders is recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Presently, 17 states have such a law. If Senator Lourie’s law passes, South Carolina would become number 18.

This is from the Charleston Post and Courier:
Ignition interlock for second-offense DUI went into effect in South Carolina in January of 2010. There were 1,024 drivers in the program as of Nov. 30, according to the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon.

Completion of a required license suspension period and an alcohol and drug safety program is required before the ignition interlock device is an option for people convicted of second-offense DUI. As of Nov. 30, 6,158 DUI offenders were eligible for the program.

“The first step to address the number one killer on our roadways is to do what has proven to be effective — use interlocks for all DUI offenders,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

The American Beverage Institute, a trade association representing 8,000 restaurants, urged lawmakers to reject the NTSB recommendation for first-time DUI offenders.

The NTSB is looking at other ways to combat drunk driving, such as promoting research into an alcohol detection device that could be installed in cars.

Law enforcement agencies in South Carolina are taking steps this holiday season to curb drunk driving:
* Public safety checkpoints;
* Beefed-up DUI enforcement;
* A “Sober or Slammer!” campaign that runs through New Year’s Day.

Almost half of highway deaths in South Carolina are due to impaired drivers. Many of these motorists are driving to and from holiday parties and festivities.

Source: Charleston Post and Courier http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20121218/PC16/121219366/1006/alcohol-breath-test-for-car-ignition-proposed-for-first-offenders-in-south-carolina