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New South Carolina law could reduce drunk driving accidents

Drunk driving is still a major issue across South Carolina. As a result, local lawmakers are looking for ways to crack down on the problem. The South Carolina House of Representatives is considering a bill that would strengthen the state's drunk driving laws and mandate harsher penalties for first-time DUI offenders.

The proposed law would require all DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles following first convictions. Ignition interlock devices force drivers to blow into a device that measures their blood alcohol level in order to start a vehicle. If a driver has a blood alcohol level of .02 or above, the device disables the vehicle's ignition. In 2017, such devices reportedly prevented almost 2,000 impaired-driving attempts statewide.

Current South Carolina law requires that judges order repeat DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices. In addition, first-time offenders must install the devices if they are convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content level of .15 or above. However, drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test are not required to install the device. The new bill would end these legal loopholes, and proponents say that other states that have passed similar laws have cut DUI-related deaths by around 15 percent. Meanwhile, lawmakers who oppose the law say that ignition interlock devices are too expensive and unfair to drivers who are later proven innocent.

Drunk driving car accidents cause thousands of serious injuries across the U.S. each year. As a result of these injuries, DUI crash victims could be left with temporary or permanent disabilities that leave them unable to work and support their families. However, an attorney could review a victim's case and help prepare a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including medical expenses and lost wages.

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