Welcome to the second edition of my series of articles on understanding the new DUI Laws in South Carolina. My last blog anticipated that the final step enacting South Carolina’s New DUI Law, also known as Senator Joel Lourie’s Bill #137, or Emma’s Law, was just hours away. With Governor Nikki Haley’s signature this week, that step was taken. Years in the making, it’s now official: South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Devices are here to stay. Technically, DUI Ignition Interlock Devices are not “new”, since the current DUI law In South Carolina provides for their use in convictions of DUI 2nd or greater. Mercifully, most folks have not dealt with these. Since Emma’s Law now requires that DUI Ignition Interlock Devices be imposed for DUI 1st offenses, –the subject of last week’s blog– this article will refer to South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device as such because, starting October of this year, they will be required for these these first offenses for the first time. Fair enough? So let’s examine South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device and what it’s all about.
South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device: Exactly What Is It?
South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device is a mechanism, similar to a breathalyzer or Datamaster that is physically installed in a vehicle’s dashboard. It is designed to prevent a driver from operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. While these devices are not identical in every state, their purpose and function is. 2014 Emma’s Law designates that South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device, in addition to measuring blood alcohol levels, must also take your picture and verify that you are behind the wheel before you can start your engine. Emma’s Law further provides that South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device will not allow you to start your car if you have a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher. SO remember, in South Carolina, not only should you blow under .02, It best be YOUR lips wrapped around that tube, lest ye pay the a dear price for breaking the new DUI Law. They’re watching you!
So, now that you have a general idea as to what South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device actually is, let’s move ahead to a more complicated subject.
South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device: How do I get one?
I think it’s important to note here that
South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device will be strictly enforced and closely monitored. Primary oversight falls to the South Carolina Ignition Interlock Device Program, which is housed within The S.C. Department of Probation, Pardon & Parole Services. Additionally, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) will partner with DPPPS to operate key components of the South Carolina Ignition Interlock Device Program, and all three agencies will cooperate and share information to ensure successful implementation and operation of South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device.
So let’s move ahead in our analysis. Suppose you have just been convicted of DUI for refusing or for blowing over a .15. Firstly, your license is suspended. That means you do not drive until you get South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device installed on your car, But it’s not that easy. Firstly, you must COMPLETE the ADSAP program. Then, you must go and meet with a certified vender. Currently, there are three (3) Certified Venders in South Carolina who will tell you what specific mechanic in your area is qualified to install your New DUI Ignition Interlock Device in South Carolina. (Please understand that your favorite hometown mechanic may not be able to do this. You must go to a mechanic designated by the certified vender.)
Once that expert mechanic has successfully installed South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device in your car, he will issue a certificate of authenticity, which you must then take to the DMV to prove you have done this correctly. Then, and only then, will you be issued your new Ignition Interlock Restricted License. Not to overwhelm here, but remember it is critical that you distinguish this special interlock restricted license from other licenses you may have heard of : South Carolina Route Restricted License , South Carolina Temporary Alcohol License or a Provisional License in South Carolina. The current information on my website is still accurate for these licenses, Emma’s Law and the introduction of South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device has merely added another category of driver’s license to the list! I hope That hasn’t totally confused you! Let’s move ahead.
Now that I have South Carolina’s new DUI Ignition Interlock Device installed, How Does It Work?
The Driver must first breathe into the device before starting the vehicle. If the analyzed breath sample results higher than .02 alcohol, the vehicle will not start. But that’s not all. Remember what I just said about Emma’s Law and South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device: You also get your picture taken, so when a mouth clamps down on that plastic tube, be sure it’s attached to YOUR face when you’re suckin’ and blowin’! Don’t try “lookalikes” for the camera. Funny business: NOT a good idea.
To be sure, there’s nothing funny about the fact that, once you start driving, you will be required to submit to the equivalent of “random drug tests” any time the machine indicates that you must blow again. And if you don’t, car will react. That’s right, if you keep reading, I’ll tell you how! Incidentally, these random breath test requirements are designed to prevent you from finding someone to “blow for you”, so you can start your engine, then drive away. [oh, and if you TRY to do that, the "Bad Samaritan" who tries to help you is also subject to a penalty, but I'll wait until another blog for that one!]
So let’s assume you blow into South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device and you register .02 or more. We just learned that you can’t crank er up. But if you fail a random test whilst driving…what then? That’s when South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device will begin to warn you: alarms will ring, lights will flash and your horn will blow until you park it and turn it off.
Each time this happens, it costs you. “How do they know”, You ask?…Officials can call you out because you are required to take South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device back to the expert mechanic for “servicing” every 60 days to ensure it’s working properly and to be sure you have not flunked a random re-test like this!
So Just How Long Do I Have to keep South Carolina’s New DUI Ignition Interlock Device in My Car?
For a DUI 1st Offense = Six (6) Months
For a DUI 2nd Offiese = Two (2) Years
For a DUI 3rd Offense = Four (4) Years
For a DUI 4th Offense = For Life*
*You can try to get “paroled” from this life sentence, but only once every five (5) years. And it’s up to the Parole Board, the victim’s family can testify, etc…
What if I get caught violating the requirements of South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device?
Emma’s Law has set up a complicated NEW point system to determine your penalty when you violate various parts of the New DUI Law in South Carolina. Do not confuse this point system with the current point system utilized by the DMV when you speed, run red lights, etc…
Firstly, remember that once convicted you must obtain the new Ignition Interlock Restricted License. Therefore, the following point assessments are levied against THAT special license for violating requirements of South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device. Secondly, kindly recall that you are under an obligation to bring your car in every 60 days for maintenance. When the mechanic checks it, he must report to the DMV any violations recorded in the data box of your New South Carolina DUI Interlock Device.
Blowing a .02 will NOT result in a point violation; however, the car will not start. SO let’s assume you “pass the test” and your car starts. You are driving along and South Carolina’s New DUI Interlock Device asks you to submit a random “re-test”…
If you fail to “take” that re-test and keep on driving = One (1) point assessed
If you take the re-test, and register between a .02-.04 = one-half (1/2) point assessed
If you take the re-test and blow between a .04- .15 = 0ne (1) point assessed
If you take the re-test and blow over a .15 = two (2) points assessed
Failure to report to the mechanic every 60 days = One (1) point assessed
So what are the consequences of all these “points” against my Ignition Interlock Restricted License?
Racking up 2 – 2.5 Points will tack TWO MONTHS onto your New DUI Interlock Device Requirement
Racking up 3 – 3.5 Points will tack FOUR MONTHS onto your New Interlock Device Requirement
and… you will have to take ANOTHER Alcohol Rehabilitation Course (since the first one clearly didn’t “sink in “)
Racking up 4 points or higher will SUSPEND your Ignition Interlock Restricted License for six (6) Months
There are so many more details contained in this 47-page chunk of legislation –South Carolina’s New DUI Law — but my goal in this series of articles is to explain the main parts and paint a general user-friendly overview that is not painfully boring to read. I hope that my tenure with the House, coupled with my 26 years practicing DUI & Criminal Defense in Columbia, S.C. will enable me to uniquely do so.
Lastly–just as before–and you probably know this, but I need to repeat it LOUDLY–
This is a blog. ( I hope you think it’s a DARN GOOD ONE) But this is not “legal advice”. If you need legal advice…you need to get in touch with a LAWYER. Personally.
As for this attorney, Rest Assured, I’ve been doing this for over 26 years. We are on top of it at Cromer Law Offices, LLC. I will be posting many more details about Emma’s Law in the future.
If you do get arrested and charged with DUI in South Carolina, especially now that Emma’s Law has passed, I strongly urge to obtain legal help while navigating through these rough waters. I’d be honored if you chose me.
Be safe and I’ll be back soon.
J.L. Mann (Bubba) Cromer is an Attorney in Columbia, whose practice focuses on DUI Defense, Criminal Defense & Probate Administration and Estate Planning. Admitted to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia, “Bubba” has been in practice for 26 years. In addition to his Solo Practice at Cromer Law Offices, LLC, Bubba Served as the only true Independent In the S.C. Legislature from 1990-1998. For the past 16 years, he has Served as the Reading Clerk of the House. Bubba resides in Columbia, S.C and Rosman, N.C. where he built a cabin 4 years ago. Bubba lives with his Hungarian Golden Retriever,Casper.
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