April 6, 2015

DUI Update: Emma’s Law


emmas lawOn October 1, 2014 Governor Nikki Haley signed into law several amendments to the current DUI Law, these amendments are known collectively as Emma’s Law. Emma’s Law was brought about and named after 6-year-old Emma Longstreet who was killed by a drunken driver in 2012. The new rules expand and toughen some of South Carolina’s DUI rules and regulations.

The first change in the law requires first time offenders, who have been convicted of DUI or DUAC (Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration,) must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed, at their expense, on their vehicle for six (6) months, if they had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.

As important to note, you cannot simply just ride out your suspension by not driving for 6 months. If you ever want to obtain your license again, you must have an IID installed in your vehicle, if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater. During your suspension you must pay the monthly fee for the device. In addition, your suspension will increase if you fail the test or test positive for alcohol when using your IID. Also of important note, each and every IID comes equipped with a camera and will snap a “selfie” of you when you take the test to insure that it is in fact you blowing into the machine and not some passenger.


An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock iiddevice (IID and BAIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device; if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration (which varies between countries), the device prevents the engine from being started.


The second change in the law requires that those individual who have refused to take a breath test will no longer get a restricted license if they are convicted of a DUI. They will have two options: 1) they can agree not to drive for 6 months upon conviction; or 2) they can enroll in the IID program and drive with an IID for the remaining period of their suspension or at least 3 months, whichever is longer. Inshort, you don’t need to get an IID if you didn’t take the test, so long as you don’t drive for 6 months, but if you want to drive you will have to get an IID.

There are additional penalties associated with the IID. You cannot drive a vehicle without one of these devices if you do you face fines, jail time and extensions of the IID requirement. If you test positive for an excessive alcohol level while using your vehicle equipped with the IID, you will be subject to a point system that can extend your suspension period or revoke your license.

If you are driving a vehicle equipped with an IID, in addition to taking the IID test every time you start the car, you will be asked to perform random tests when you are operating your vehicle. Also you will have to pay to have the device installed, maintained, and inspected. Inspections are required every 60 days.

There are many additional changes to the law that fall under the Emma’s Law provisions. This is just a highlight of some of the most major changes affecting first time offenders. If you are confused, you are not alone. These changes are the most significant changes to the South Carolina DUI statutes for quiet some time. For more information, contact Murray Law Group, LLC.