Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Will first-time DUI in South Carolina carry interlock penalty?

On behalf of Taylor Law Firm, LLC posted in Blood-Alcohol Tests on Friday, April 27, 2012

Throughout the country, states are passing anti-DUI laws that require people to install ignition interlock devices in their cars after being convicted of drunk driving. Currently, South Carolina already has such laws in place, but they only affect individuals who have been convicted of DUI two times or more. That could change, however, if lawmakers in Columbia pass two bills that would also require interlock devices for first-time offenders.

The interlock machines function much like a Breathalyzer test. Once a person has the device installed, it will test the driver's breath for alcohol every time he or she tries to drive. While the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.08 percent, an ignition interlock device will prevent a car from starting if the driver blows a 0.02 percent or higher.

Critics of the devices point out that they could be inaccurate. For example, breath tests have been known to return a mistaken reading for a person with a different metabolic rate, higher breath temperature or a different body temperature than what the machine expects. Moreover, it has been noted that the machines are expensive and could have a disproportionate effect on South Carolinians with a low income.

Still, one state representative had this to say: "We understand people make mistakes as first-time offenders. We want to help them not to make a second mistake."

That may be well and good, but anyone accused drunk driving in South Carolina, whether it's the first time or not, will want to be aware of their rights under state and federal laws. Not everyone who is accused of DUI is guilty, and those who suspect that they are guilty would do well to pursue a significant reduction of charges. Otherwise, the stiff penalties sought by prosecutors could go unchecked, resulting in high fees, license suspension, an interlock device and even jail time.

Source: WISTV, "Breathalyzer bills stalled in State House," Jody Barr, April 24, 2012

Tags: Breathalyzer, DUI charge, blood-alcohol tests, first-time offender, ignition interlock device

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