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A bill to expand a South Carolina program that requires DUI offenders to install breath testing machines, also known as ignition interlock devices, in their vehicles advanced to the Senate on Tuesday.
Drivers convicted of first-offense DUI who have a blood-alcohol content of 0.12 percent or higher would be required to install a breath testing device connected to their vehicle’s ignition systems if the bill becomes law, said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg. The device prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has a certain blood-alcohol level.
South Carolina does not now require drivers convicted of first-offense DUI to install the ignition interlock device, Hutto said. Second and third DUI offenders already are required to install the device, following the suspension of their licenses, as a condition of driving again. The bill would eliminate the suspension period for second and third DUI offenders and require them to install the device immediately.
Supporters see the changes as giving DUI offenders a way to drive legally, helping them get to work, Hutto said. Now, some drivers with suspended licenses because of DUI charges drive anyway.
State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, who expressed concern about forcing some first-time DUI offenders to use the device, asked a minority report be placed on the bill, which could make it more difficult to pass, said Judiciary chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, unless the Senate can reach a compromise.