Dad pushes legislators to pass Emma's Law

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) --{}A father who lost his 6-year-old daughter in a drunken driving accident is now pushing for legislation in her honor that would stop DUI offenders from getting behind the wheel when they've been drinking.

David Longstreet remembers vividly New Years Day 2012. It's the day a drunken driver crashed into his family of six in Lexington, South Carolina.

"It was a blind turn where I couldn't see the full intersection," said Longstreet. "So many cars were out there. And before I knew it there was a car on us and it T-boned us, my side, left side and Emma was directly behind me."

Longstreet says the driver was going 60 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.

"He hit us so hard we actually hit another car. Thank God it was there or we would have been rolling the vehicle," said Longstreet.

Longstreet's only daughter Emma was killed in that crash. She was the youngest child of four.

"Emma was a vivacious, very spiritual little girl. She loved the outdoors, she loved playing outside, she loved animals," said Longstreet.

Now, Longstreet has channeled his grieving into a fight at the statehouse to make amendments to bill S137.

"The bill is basically a first time interlock ignition bill, which is basically breathalyzers for your car" said Longstreet. "If you blow above a 0.12 blood-alcohol level, then you would be required to either take the ignition interlock to get your driver's license back and then pay for that. It's a $100 install, a hundred dollars a month for 6 months minimum. Or you can sit it out under suspension with no driver's license and you'll have to pay a pretty hefty fine."

Kelly DeHay's daughter was also killed by a drunk driver. She says Emma's Law can make a major impact.

"Through Mothers Against Drunk Driving studies, it has shown a definite 67 percent decrease in recidivism rate," said DeHay. {}"Can you imagine how many lives that could save?"

DeHay also says the legislation will save the taxpayer money.

"Billions of dollars are spent to clean up the scene, for the court rooms, for the jail," said DeHay. "That's saves so much money. Plus, the offender is the person who pays for the interlock device. Not the state."

Emma's Law will be heard in a subcommittee hearing in Columbia Thursday morning. The state Senate already passed the legislation last year.{}

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