'Emma's Law' passes House subcommittee as supporters crowd Statehouse steps
Supporters of the "Emma's Law" bill crowded the Statehouse steps Thursday to encourage lawmakers to pass the bill through a Judiciary subcommittee.
By: Sydney Patterson
A bill requiring vehicle ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders was unanimously passed by a South Carolina House of Representatives subcommittee Thursday.
"Emma's Law" is named after Emma Longstreet, a 6-year-old who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year's Day in 2012. Emma's parents have been an integral part of the push to pass Emma's Law, and they and other supporters packed the Statehouse on Thursday to show support for the bill.
An ignition interlock is a device that uses a Breathalyzer to stop a car from being started if the driver's blood alcohol content is higher than the legal limit of .08. Right now, state law only requires the device after the second time someone is convicted of DUI. The original version of Emma's Law would require the device after the first offense, but only for drivers who are convicted of drunk driving with a BAC of .12 or higher. Amendments were added in subcommittee that raised that requirement from .12 to .15.
The bill was passed through the Special Laws subcommittee Thursday and will advance to the Judiciary Committee early this week. There, it will either be voted on as is or amended further.
The bill has been sitting in subcommittee since last February, and if it doesn't pass into law before June, the process will have to start all over next session.