South Carolina Gov.Mark Sanford signed a new law last week to toughen the state’s penalties for driving under the influence and to remove enforcement loopholes.
The bill significantly strengthens the state’s DUI laws, toughening penalties for most first time offenses and all second and subsequent offenses, while removing community service as a sentencing option for second and subsequent offenses.
In addition, the bill for the first time introduces a “tiered” penalty system, with greater punishments for offenders who are grossly intoxicated. The bill also creates tougher penalties for refusing to take blood alcohol tests.
Most importantly, the new law removes a number of administrative loopholes that had been used in the past to give defense attorneys an advantage in court.
“This bill sends a clear message to law enforcement that we’re serious about giving them the tools they need to keep people safe,” Sanford said. “I’d give real credit to folks like Murrell Smith in the House and Larry Martin and Shane Massey in the Senate for the way they pushed so hard to make sure this bill created meaningful penalties and got rid of the loopholes that kept law enforcement from doing their jobs. This law represents an important and very concrete step forward in making our roadways safer in South Carolina, and as a consequence improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians.”
Governor Sanford also singled out Spartanburg Solicitor Trey Gowdy for his work on the bill.
“Signing this bill makes our DUI laws more efficient and tougher,” Gowdy said. “Time will tell if these reforms are as effective as we need for them to be, and we will be watching court processes as well as fatality rates to see if meaningful improvement occurs — my hope is that it certainly will. The success in pushing this reform is a credit to the governor, and a credit to all of the citizens who have talked to their local legislators about this critical issue of public safety.”
Source: Office of the Governor of South Carolina
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