SC requires repeat DUI offenders purchase ignition locks

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Friday, June 15, 2007, News 12 First at Five

SOUTH CAROLINA -- It's a little, black box with a big impact. The Guardian manufactured Ignition Interlock System is making its way into South Carolina. It's easy to read; you either pass or fail.

"They realize it's court ordered - most of the cases - and they don't have a choice," says technician Bob Farhner.

Farhner installs the devices into the cars of repeat DUI offenders in Georgia. Now under a new, South Carolina bill, the same machine will be forced onto similar offenders after their second DUI.

If they blow a reading of .02 or above their car won't start.

"I think it's going to open a Pandora's box," says defense attorney James Huff. "I guarantee you Savannah River Site would not approve a device like this. There's no device that's going to have the accuracy of a .02 dead on."

Huff also fears the statute undermines a current law that states drivers can legally drive with a blood alcohol level of .05 or under; not .02.

"So one drink is now going to be illegal for a person with this Ignition Interlock Device but not illegal for anyone else. They can have two and a half times that amount in their system and drive perfectly legally," Huff says.

And every move will be marked; the system allows installers to track each time the offender blows a reading.

"It shows failures and it shows aborts," says Fahrner.

The bill also makes it illegal for anyone to loan their car to an offender or to take the breathalyzer test for them.

It also cracks down on underage drinking by allowing police to find out who bought kegs at parties for minors, allow people twenty-one years of age buy alcohol as part of police stings and it increases penalties and fines.

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