GOVERNOR URGES SENATE TO MOVE FORWARD BEFORE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS
With only six working days left in the legislative session, Governor Mark Sanford today joined Solicitor Trey Gowdy and other law enforcement officials in Spartanburg to call for swift passage of stronger DUI legislation before the session ends.
In February, Gov. Sanford joined with Gowdy, legislators and other law enforcement personnel from across the state to call for passage of legislation based upon the work of the S.C. Impaired Driving Council. The legislation would stiffen penalties for repeat offenders and would remove some of the administrative roadblocks and loopholes that currently impede police in their fforts to enforce the .08 legislation. The bill cleared the House late in the legislative session, giving the Senate an opportunity to pass the life-saving bill.
"The bottom line is that there are too many people dying on our roads each year because of our anemic DUI laws, and it's unfortunate that efforts to reverse that trend have too often been undermined by some in the legislature who favor the current system," Gov. Sanford said. "South Carolina consistently ranks near the top in the nation for DUI deaths, which is why the Senate needs to act quickly on this bill so that we can avoid yet another year of too many people being killed on South Carolina's roads."
"The sad but true reality in South Carolina is that in many cases it's easier to get a death penalty conviction than a DUI conviction," Gowdy said. "Our current DUI law is fraught with loopholes that favor the drunk driver at the expense of innocent South Carolinians who die at their hands in alarming numbers year after year - and there's no excuse for letting another year go by without changing that."
One alcohol-related death occurs on our nation's roads every 31 minutes, and one alcohol-related injury occurs every two minutes. In 2005, South Carolina ranked seventh in vehicle deaths per 100,000 miles driven, with alcohol being a significant factor in these deaths. South Carolina is 9th in the country for the percentage of drunk drivers in fatal crashes. In part due to the difficulty in getting DUI convictions, plea bargaining in DUI cases is rampant - 40 percent of repeat DUI offenders in South Carolina plead guilty to lesser offenses.