South Carolina cracks down on drunk driving with new DUI law

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A new DUI law known as the “All Offender Law” went into effect in South Carolina on Sunday.

The law requires all drivers convicted of driving under the influence to participate in the “Ignition Interlock Program” regardless of their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed the legislation into law this month as part of an effort by South Carolina lawmakers to reduce the number of DUI accidents in the state.

“South Carolina right now, I think you can say, is the worst state in the nation for drunk driving,” said Steven Burritt, the Regional Executive Director for MADD in North and South Carolina.

The All Offender Law applies to all convicted DUI offenders instead of just some first-time offenders.

“Basically, the idea with this new law is that everyone convicted of a DUI is going to have to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car,” Burritt said. “Which basically means they have to blow sober to get their car to start.”

The cost of the device on the car is borne by the person convicted. They must put the device on the vehicle they drive.

“If they’re caught driving a vehicle, it’ll have on their license that they’re supposed to be driving with an ignition interlock device,” Burritt said. “The penalties’ quite stiff for someone who makes the bad choice to try to drive without a car that has that device.”

Data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety shows that in 2023, there were more than 5,300 crashes involving alcohol or drugs, resulting in 367 deaths.

“One of the primary missions that we have is to protect the public,” said Jodi Gallman, Acting Director of the SC Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon. “We now have that added  responsibility, but we also have the mechanism that we need to protect the public from these drunk drivers.”

South Carolina is the 35th state to pass this law. Burritt said states have seen, on average, a 16% reduction in drunk driving deaths when they have a law like this.

“It’s not punitive,” Burritt said. “It’s really to help people kind of change their behaviors and make good decisions.”

Currently, there are more than 1,185 drivers participating in this program. That number is expected to more than double next year due to the new law taking effect.

Burritt also said the devices not only help everyone who is on the road, but it will also protect and save the life of the person who is making the decision to drive while impaired.

“To know that at least today we’re a little safer than we were just a week ago, and we need to keep going in that direction,” Burritt said.

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.

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