COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today was joined by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Tess Rowland, law enforcement officers, and members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial bill signing of S. 36, the Ignition Interlock bill. The legislation will deter drunk driving and enhance the safety of South Carolina's roadways by requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device upon the first conviction of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) at .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher. Previously, ignition interlock devices were required following a DUI at .15 BAC or higher.
"Too many South Carolina families have been tragically impacted by reckless drivers under the influence of alcohol," said Governor Henry McMaster. "This legislation will significantly reduce the number of DUI incidents across our state and ultimately save the lives of countless South Carolinians."
An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a cell phone that is wired into a vehicle's ignition system. Convicted drunk drivers must provide a breath sample into the device in order to start their vehicle. If any measurable amount of alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.
“This is a great day for highway safety in South Carolina," said South Carolina State Senator Brad Hutto. "We know from the data that over the course of time that these devices have been on cars in South Carolina, it has stopped thousands of people who attempted to drive with alcohol in their system. So the fact that this bill will help us get this device on more cars will save even more lives.”
The ignition interlock device is required to be affixed to the motor vehicle equal to the length of time remaining on the person's suspension or denial of the issuance of a license or permit.
“MADD is grateful that Governor McMaster and South Carolina legislators recognize the need for every convicted drunk driver to have these devices on their cars so they cannot drive impaired again and put themselves and others in grave danger,” Rowland said. “MADD advocates for these laws in honor of Emma and so many others who cannot be with us today because of someone’s choice to drive impaired.”
In lieu of serving the remainder of a suspension or denial of a license or permit, a person may enroll in the Ignition Interlock Device Program, end the suspension or denial of a license or permit, and obtain an ignition interlock restricted license.
According to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, South Carolina had 401 alcohol-related driving fatalities in 2021.
A video of the bill signing can be found here.