Is Emma's law effective at preventing drunk driving deaths?

Named after a six-year-old girl who died in a collision with an alleged drunk driver, Emma's Law has been in effect in South Carolina since 2014. The purpose was to prevent repeat DUI offenses by requiring many drivers convicted of drunk driving for the first time to purchase and install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. 

The law is supposed to work this way: Following your drunk driving conviction, the court orders installation of the device on your vehicle. Before you can start your car, you have to blow into the device, which then analyzes your breath and prevents you from starting your vehicle if your blood alcohol is above the device's set limit of 0.02. Though celebrated at the time as a life-saving measure, critics now claim that Emma's Law has too many loopholes to be effective.

According to The State, following your first-time DUI conviction, Emma's Law requires an interlock device only if your blood alcohol level was 0.15 at the time of your arrest, which is nearly twice the legal limit. Additionally, if you received a temporary alcohol license following your arrest, the law does not require you to obtain an interlock device. You could also refuse to provide a breath sample at the time of your arrest, although that would result in an automatic six-month suspension of your license. 

Advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving feel that the current law does not go far enough. They are advocating for interlock ignition device requirements to apply more broadly in the interest of closing the loopholes. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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