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Understand how your plea deal might impact your life

A person who is facing criminal charges might be offered a plea deal to resolve their case. When the defendant admits they committed the crime at hand, this can be a useful way to resolve the matter because it gets the case finished faster than what's possible if they have to go through a trial. There are several points that might be included in a plea bargain, so understanding exactly what's being offered in your case is beneficial.

Many plea deals focus on setting specific penalties in exchange for a specific plea. This is the sentence that the prosecution will suggest to the judge. Most of the time, the judge will accept the sentence when they accept the plea deal, but it is possible that they will change the sentence a bit. You should be prepared for this possibility when you accept a plea deal.

House bill proposes mandatory ignition interlocks after DUI

South Carolina's House Judiciary Committee is considering a proposed bill that could require everyone convicted of DUI as a first offense to install an ignition interlock device. These devices require drivers to blow into an in-car Breathalyzer when they enter their vehicles. Their car will start only if there is no sign of alcohol intoxication; if alcohol is present, the ignition will not turn. During the drive, the device tends to request several rolling retests. Currently, people who were convicted of drunk driving with a higher BAC or those with a second offense must install the devices.

Ignition interlock devices are optional in South Carolina for people convicted of DUI as a first offense. In some cases, they may be used to forestall a license suspension, especially for people who rely on their vehicles for work, school or family needs. The devices are expensive, however, and the cost of installing and later uninstalling them is borne by the driver. In some cases, people and their defense lawyers might be able to negotiate an agreement with prosecutors. Some may opt for installing an interlock device in order to return to the roads more quickly, while others may negotiate for reduced charges to avoid even more costly fines and interlock charges.

Delayed school start times may improve teen driver safety

Parents in South Carolina are probably concerned about seeing their teens driving distracted or drowsy. The biological changes that teens undergo make them sleep long and later into the day, a habit that can be at odds with the early start times that many schools have established. It follows, then, that if schools started later, teens may get more sleep and not be so prone to unsafe behaviors behind the wheel.

One study that put forward this idea looked at the rate of teen car crashes over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia. The county had changed its school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. back in the fall of 2015. Analyzing car crash data in the year before and after that change, researchers discovered that the rate had declined from 31.6 to 29.6 crashes per 1,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 18.

Experts call on U.S. government to update car safety tests

Many South Carolina motorists believe that cars today are safer than ever before. With modern technology developments, many safety advancements have been made by vehicle manufacturers. Unfortunately, the safety ratings system developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is outdated and may not truly reflect today's reality.

The current five-star safety rating system that is used to assess new vehicles was developed in the 1990s. Consumers were encouraged to purchase vehicles who earned four or five stars, as these were believed to be the safest. Unfortunately, this system has not been revamped since that time and does not take into account actual reports from accidents or new technological advancements.

Beware the drunk drivers at your next South Carolina festival

Whether you live in South Carolina or travel to Myrtle Beach or other tourist locations in the state for vacation every year, chances are, you encounter traffic while you're here. There are certain times of year when there tends to be more vehicles on the road than others, such as when the annual motorcycle rallies or other public festivals take place. Whether you're a full-time resident or visitor, such festivals can be fun and memorable.

The problem is that not all memories are good ones. Rallies and festivals often include alcoholic beverages. Even if they don't, they tend to draw large crowds that increase the chances of a drunk driver crossing your path. If someone makes the irresponsible choice to drink and drive, your festival memories might include a trip to the hospital in an ambulance if his or her negligence causes a collision.

Reasons sorting out multi-car accidents is difficult

South Carolina residents who have seen a multi-car accident understand how devastating these collisions can be. The largest multi-car accident in the U.S. history involved 194 cars and spread over 2 miles. Thankfully, that accident did not lead to fatalities. However, determining who was at fault was likely a challenge.

Accidents with at least three vehicles are multi-car accidents. There is usually a chain reaction of cars rear-ending each other. Normally, one is at fault for the first collision, and then subsequent collisions happen.

Red light cameras save lives and prevent accidents

Drivers in South Carolina and around the country often react angrily when municipalities announce plans to install red light cameras despite clear evidence showing that the devices save lives. Many motorists believe red light cameras are used to generate revenue and not prevent accidents, and fierce opposition to the devices has led to them being removed in many parts of the country. In 2012, 533 cities and towns in the United States used red light cameras. That number has since fallen to 421.

This has road safety advocacy groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety worried. An IIHS study conducted in 2017 revealed that installing red light cameras reduces violations by approximately 40% and lowers deaths associated with red-light running by 21%. The nonprofit organizations says that towns and cities could encounter less resistance to red light camera schemes if they limit the devices to dangerous intersections, provide evidence showing that the cameras are improving safety and listen to feedback from the community.

Why Miranda rights are important

Many people in South Carolina know of their Miranda rights from watching television shows in which the famous warning is depicted at the scene of an arrest. However, people may be less certain about how these warnings carry over into real life and how it may affect their rights in a criminal case if the police fail to provide them with the appropriate warning. When police arrest someone on allegations of a crime, they must present the necessary warnings, which include telling the person that they have the right to remain silent, that their words could later be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that a lawyer can be appointed for people who cannot afford to pay.

In other words, people who are arrested on criminal charges have a right to a lawyer and do not have to speak to the police, no matter what other techniques the police may use in order to convince people to confess or provide other information. These warnings were affirmed by a 1966 Supreme Court case that determined that people brought into custody by the police must be notified of their rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Car safety systems that actually lead to distracted driving

Systems that have been designed to make driving easier and safer may actually be putting drivers at risk. Touchscreens, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control can lull South Carolina drivers into letting their guard down, which can lead to serious accidents. The solution is not necessarily getting rid of these systems: It is teaching drivers how to use them properly.

A study that was released by the AAA Foundation revealed that individuals put too much trust in these systems and do not know how to use them correctly. However, when these technologies are used correctly, they do make the roads safer. This underscores the challenges faced by the auto industry as it continues its slow transition to self-driving cars.

All new cars may soon have alcohol detection systems

South Carolina residents may know about how some car safety devices can prevent distracted driving and even keep drunk drivers from starting their car. The benefits of alcohol detection tech are becoming so clear that a bill has been proposed to mandate such tech on all new vehicles by 2024.

The bill is called the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019, and lawmakers believe that if the measures described in it are implemented, they could save 7,000 lives a year. Every day in the U.S., drunk driving crashes claim the lives of some 30 people, which comes to one person every 48 minutes.

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