Emma's Law moves forward to the House floor - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Emma's Law moves forward to the House floor

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The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed Emma's Law with some changes Tuesday afternoon. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed Emma's Law with some changes Tuesday afternoon.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Emma's Law is headed to the full state House of Representatives following a unanimous House Judiciary Committee vote that didn't come without some friction.

The bill would install ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of repeat offenders and first time offenders with certain blood-alcohol content levels.

At issue was an amendment that came from Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-District 74).

The proposal would allow first time offenders to plead guilty, pay $300, and get an ignition interlock device, but have that record expunged after three years of no more DUI offenses. The measure voted down in an 11-11 tie.

"It has no chance as a separate bill, all they did, they were mad because I came up with the idea and what they did was kill more people. There's nothing that this current bill does that's going to save Josiah life, Emma's life, they don't know that, but I do, because if you look back at the facts what we needed was more people on interlock devices, not less," said Rutherford.

Stakeholders say allowing current offenders to take advantage of the change, went too far.

"Mr. Rutherford had some good ideas, but went -- as usual -- a whole lot beyond what had been discussed and had been approved of, so I'm very happy the amendment did not make it," said Laura Hudson, executive director of the South Carolina Crime Victims Council.

There were more amendments to the measure -- items stakeholders could live with that included cleaning up some of the technical language in the appeals process and what happens to driver who are convicted of DUI but refuse a breathalyzer test.

Just last week, the bill passed the House Criminal Laws Subcommittee with some changes. One change in particular riled some supporters of the bill -- changing the BAC level for first time offenders from .12 to .15.

The bill is named after 6-year-old Emma Longstreet, a Midlands child killed in a DUI crash back in 2012.

Emma's father, David Longstreet, has led the charge on this bill for several months.

Supporters know the fight is not over, and there are still likely changes to come. David is asking those supporters to continue calling legislators.

"It's still able to get better, so if the people want to speak out and they don't want .15, they still have a right," said David.

It must still be brought to the House floor and the Senate will get an opportunity to consider the changes. It's likely a conference committee will ultimately put together a compromise the governor will be asked to sign.

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