The Emma Longstreet Story
The Longstreet family was headed to church on New Year’s Day of 2012, when their lives changed in an instant. While their vehicle was approaching Cherokee Road in Lexington, SC, another car with a drunk driver behind the wheel smashed into them.
Little six year old Emma Katherine Longstreet was the only victim in the accident that did not survive. She was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where her death was confirmed later that night.
As tragic as the death of little beauty was, her parents have worked hard to see to it that Emma’s story is able to raise drunk driving awareness in South Carolina (which happens to be a state where drunk driving is found to be common). They initiated the idea of “Emma’s Law” in hopes that no other family would have to suffer the way theirs did.
October 1, 2014, Emma’s Law became a reality, providing harsher consequences for convicted drunk drivers.
What Emma’s Law Means
Emma’s Law takes the consequences for driving under the influence to another level. What is listed below is only regarding first-time offenders. With each further arrest, there are additional requirements. Here is what happens when….
…they blow a .15 or higher into a Breathalyzer.
After a person has been officially convicted of drunk driving and found to have blown a .15 or higher into the Breathalyzer, one major change that is now required is that they install an ignition interlock system into their vehicle and keep it there for six months (beginning from when the device was installed). This works much like a Breathalyzer, and requires the driver to pass before the car will start for them. Their license also changes to a special class that requires they only drive the vehicle assigned to them. Keep in mind, all of the costs for the expensive ignition interlock system must come from the person using it.
…they blow lower than a .15 into a Breathalyzer.
If the person is found to have been drinking, but blows under .15 in the Breathalyzer, they will have their license suspended for a six month period, but may have an opportunity to apply for a provisional license that may allow them to drive under specific circumstances (such as to/from work).
…they refuse to test.
If the test is refused altogether, the consequences are seemingly worse than if they had. They do not have to install the ignition interlock system in their vehicle. However, they do have their license suspended for six months. This takes away all driving privileges during that time.
The Result of Emma’s Law
With this being the first full year that Emma’s Law has been in effect, it is hard to tell how significant the changes in drunk driving trends are at this point. It is expected that the number of reported drunk driving incidents is going to be much lower than in previous years, but the statistical data has not yet been released.
Chances are, if a drunk driver (or any other criminal for that matter) is let off the hook easily, they’re going to do it again. The Longstreet family has done their best to put a stop to drunk driving, while keeping Emma’s memory in the hearts of every South Carolina home.