Ceremonial signing held Wednesday for Emma's Law
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- Gov. Nikki Haley says a new DUI law will send a message to drunken drivers. The recently passed Emma's Law required an interlocking ignition system for repeat DUI offenders.
Before Haley ceremoniously signed Emma's Law in front of a packed lobby inside the Statehouse, she briefly explained why.
"I looked at her and I said, 'Why?' Because I didn't want it, because it's too painful. And she said, 'Because I can't let you forget,'" said Haley.
The governor says Emma Longstreet won't soon be forgotten with the new tough law for DUI offenders.
Under Emma's Law, first time offenders with a blood alcohol content of almost twice the legal limit will have a choice to install an ignition interlock system for six months instead of losing their license. If the BAC level is above .15, the driver will be required to have the system installed in the car.
If alcohol is detected the system will not allow the car to start.
"When I saw the laws that were on the books and I was learning it and being educated, I felt like South Carolina was not in the position of leadership," said David Longstreet, Emma's father.
On New Year's Day in 2012, Longstreet was driving with 6-year-old Emma in the back seat when he was T-boned by a drunken driver. It was not the driver's first time.
Emma's father says since his daughter's death, 550 people have died in alcohol-related incidents.
"When people see the effects of the bill and law, now they're going to be able to know that Emma, like all the other little children are important people," said Longstreet.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving CEO Debbie Weir says the new law is a step in the right direction for South Carolina.
"We're hoping to see how the fatality rates comes down from Emma's Law and what improvements need to be made based on that data," said Weir.
Emma's Law will go into effect Oct. 1. The interlock ignition system will cost a driver between $75 and $100 for installation, then an addition $130 per month for the service.