On Tuesday, February 12th, MADD supporters from all over the state converged on the State House to push for swift passage of Senate Bill 18, which would strengthen our existing “Emma’s Law” by requiring the use of all convicted DUI offenders, rather than only high BAC offenders. This “all-offender” ignition interlock law exists in 32 other states, and MADD was bringing the message that South Carolina needs the life-saving impact that those other states have seen from this law.
Tuesday morning, three teams of staff, victims, volunteers, and law enforcement visited their legislators and members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to share information on the bill (and its companion House Bill 3300) and why we need it. The “why” was eloquently shared by victims/survivors from Florence, Bluffton, Lexington, Sumter, Myrtle Beach, and Summerville. Every meeting was very positive, and many legislators pledged their support.
At noon, everyone gathered on the State House steps for a rally and were joined by even more supporters and law enforcement from all over the state. Governor Henry McMaster spoke at the event, sharing not just his support, but his urging that the legislature get the bill passed within weeks so he can sign it as soon as possible. Attorney General Alan Wilson, First Lady Peggy McMaster, House Sponsor Eddie Tallon, Department of Public Safety Leroy Smith, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds, retired state Senator Joel Lourie, and Highway Patrol Colonel Chris Williamson were among those in attendance to show their support. David Longstreet, Emma’s father, also spoke on the need to strengthen Emma’s Law.
The turnout was fantastic and there was lots of media coverage. All in attendance chanted “No More Victims” in support of the bill, which also would require ignition interlock devices for those who want to get a temporary license after having theirs suspended for refusing to provide a breath sample upon arrest.
MADD SC thanks all those who attended or have contacted their legislators so far. The need for support continues. Please continue to let your legislators know of the urgency of passing this strong law that will protect us all from repeat drunk driving offenses.
Here are links to some of the media coverage. To watch a video of the rally, visit the MADD Facebook page and scroll down to Feb. 12th.