Despite all the warnings, drunk driving continues to injure and kill people on American roads every day. Our state is no exception.
According to a commander with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, “Of the 1,037 traffic fatalities that occurred last year in South Carolina, 33% were attributed to alcohol impairment.” The state had over 400 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the prior year (2021).
This summer, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a law that requires anyone convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on all vehicles they drive for a minimum of six months or the length of their license suspension if they want to continue to drive legally. Prior to the new law, an IID wasn’t required for a first-offense DUI unless the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .15, which is nearly twice the legal limit.
How do IIDs work?
An IID is a breathalyzer-type device that’s connected to a vehicle’s ignition. A driver must blow into it to start the vehicle. If the IID detects alcohol on their breath, the ignition won’t work. Further, that failed attempt will be reported to those monitoring the devices. One state lawmaker behind the legislation notes, “If we find that a person habitually tries to start their car and is getting stopped, they can actually go to jail for that.”
Drivers with IIDs are also prompted at regular intervals to pull over and blow into the device to help ensure that they didn’t start drinking once they started their car. There are also monitoring features on IIDs, like cameras, to prevent people from having someone else blow into it for them.
Having an IID can be better than the alternatives
An IID comes with expenses for the driver. Installation can cost $150, and there’s a daily cost of around $3.00 while it’s attached to the vehicle. However, that’s likely much less than a person would pay (not to mention the other consequences) if they’re caught driving without a valid license after a DUI. That’s even more true if they’re drunk. More importantly, it can be a life saver for the driver, their passengers and others on the road.
Too many people still consider a first-time DUI “no big deal.” However, as this new law indicates, the state does. If you’re facing any drunk or impaired driving-related charge, you can help protect your rights and work to minimize the damage by getting legal guidance as soon as possible.