Community pushes for passage of Emma's Law addressing drunk driv - - Columbia, South Carolina

Community pushes for passage of Emma's Law addressing drunk drivers


Signs, bumper stickers and wrist bands are showing up across South Carolina to encourage lawmakers to pass Emma's Law and increase penalties for drunk drivers.

"I think it absolutely is a big problem and we continue to see that on the news," said Jenny Kennedy with the Palmetto Athletic Center. "It seems like every week there's lives being lost."

Palmetto Athletic Center is where Emma Longstreet used to practice gymnastics. On New Year's Day 2012, the 6-year-old was killed by a drunk driver.

Last week 3-year-old Josiah Jenkins died after a crash involving a suspected drunk driver with a history of DUI convictions.

"I think it will cut down on lives being lost and the tragedy to the person that's likely to get in their car and to drive," said Kennedy. "I think it's going to help them control something that maybe they just maybe is out of control."

Signs supporting Emma's Law are up over much of Lexington, including Flight Deck Restaurant.

"As a father and as a citizen, I kind of picture what would happen if that were my child, so I'm very troubled by it," said Flight Deck owner Ted Stambolitis. "These are good people losing innocent children. It's very painful to our community and very painful to us as parents."

Emma's Law would require ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of repeat offenders and first time offenders whose blood alcohol content is .12 or greater. Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show the interlocks reduce repeat drunk driving up to 67%.

"It does cost the offender. It does not cost the state anything," said Laura Hudson with MADD Legislative Affairs. If the bill passes, offenders would have to pay a $75 installation and $130 a month for the ignition interlock on their vehicle.

Those with signs in front of their businesses say they believe Emma's Law will help save lives.

"Enough is enough," said Stambolitis. "I think we as parents and citizens of the town and of the state need to find a way to put a stop to it and Emma's Law is a good start."

Emma's law goes before a legislative subcommittee Thursday morning.

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