Six-year-old Emma Longstreet’s memory will live on as Senate Bill 137 – “Emma’s Law” – was signed into law by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley yesterday. The Longstreet family has worked tirelessly to get legislation passed in the state since Emma was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day 2012.
There for the signing were Emma’s parents David and Karen Longstreet, MADD CEO Debbie Weir and other MADD South Carolina volunteers.
“The passage of this bill ensures that Emma’s name will live on forever and it puts South Carolina in a position of national leadership in DUI enforcement,” said Emma’s father. “I want to thank MADD, Governor Haley, and all of South Carolina for supporting us throughout this process.”
The law expands the punishment for all convicted drunk drivers. Under Emma’s Law, all offenders, including first-time offenders, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive for a period of six months. Additionally, first-time 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. 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.
Requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks to prove they are sober before they can start their vehicles has been shown to save lives and stop drunk driving. Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Louisiana, have seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 33 to 46 percent, largely due to these comprehensive laws requiring all drunk drivers to receive an interlock.
Not every state is protected by these lifesaving laws, so find out if your state requires ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders and take action.