Published on April 11th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Emma’s Law Passes with Unanimous Senate Vote
Governor Haley expected to sign lifesaving drunk driving legislation
Columbia, S.C. — Six year old Emma Longstreet’s memory will live on in South Carolina. Recently, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stood with Emma’s family, volunteers, supporters, survivors and staff awaiting the Senate vote after a long fight to move forward this lifesaving drunk driving legislation.
The new law, which is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature, expands the punishment for all convicted drunk drivers, including first offenders, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .15. Specifically under Emma’s Law, first offenders with a BAC of .08 to .14 may elect to use an interlock in order to drive with no geographic restrictions in lieu of a license suspension. These offenders could also elect to go on a provisional license restricted to driving only to a Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. First-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater or those who refuse will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive for a period of six months. In the event of a repeat offense, the convicted drunk driver with a BAC of .08 and above will be required to install an ignition interlock device to drive.
The Longstreet family has worked tirelessly since Emma was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day 2012. After the votes were counted, Karen Longstreet, Emma’s mother said, “Emma wanted to be a veterinarian. Instead of saving animals’ lives she ended up saving people’s lives.”
“We are so pleased that Emma’s has passed the legislature this session and will soon be enacted,” said Jan Withers MADD National President. “Drunk driving is a 100 percent preventable yet takes such a toll on the lives of those who endure the lifelong pain and suffering.”
In response to the stagnant numbers of drunk driving fatalities in the late 1990s MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® in 2006. A key component of the Campaign legislation to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers as interlocks are an effective countermeasure in the fight to eliminate drunk driving. Studies show that a first-time convicted drunk driver is not a first-time offender, but rather it is simply the first time they have been caught. First-time offenders have driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are convicted. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ignition interlocks, on average, reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent.
“Through our efforts we are saving lives. The public recognizes that drunk driving is a problem on our roads and a threat to their safety,” continued Withers.
For more information on interlocks, please visit www.madd.org/interlock.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.