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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.

The bill in the Senate also aims to make people install an interlock device before they are even convicted of DUI, including those who did not take a blood-alcohol test at the time of their arrest. The House bill, on the other hand, requires a conviction before imposing these punitive measures.

A drunk driving conviction can have devastating effects on a person's life, and some proposals aim to impose those penalties even before they are convicted. A DUI defense attorney may help people to challenge unreliable evidence and protect their rights.

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