Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, has been named as one of the 2018 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Legislators of the Year.
In a press release, MADD stated that its legislators of the year were honored for their commitment to saving lives.
“MADD is honored to work with legislators who share our goal of eliminating the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving,” MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church said.
“We thank these legislative champions for their leadership and for recognizing the importance of their role in reversing this public safety crisis,” she said.
Hutto and state Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, were announced as South Carolina’s legislators of the year by MADD on Sept. 26. Lawmakers were named from 12 other states as well.
This is the third time Hutto has been recognized by MADD.
In November 2017, Hutto was recognized as a Legislator of the Year, and in 2013 he was recognized as a Legislative Champion.
Steven Burritt, program director of MADD South Carolina, said that the organization has a process it uses in selecting the honorees.
“We look at who kind of took a leadership role and who most actively promoted the agenda that we think is most important and saves the most lives,” Burritt said.
Burritt said they consider the officials who took the lead during the most recent legislative session.
Hutto and Tallon supported a bill that would have required wider use of ignition locks that test drivers’ blood alcohol content.
“Whereas now only some of the people who get convicted for a DUI are ordered to get an ignition interlock device, one of those in-car breathalyzers that they have to blow into sober to get their car to start, the bill that was put forward and authored by Sen. Hutto and in the House by Rep. Tallon would have changed that so anyone convicted of a DUI would have had to get one of those devices installed for some period of time, which is our number one legislative priority,” Burritt said.
“The related part of that bill also would have added the ignition interlock device requirements to those who get a temporary alcohol license. So, if somebody refuses to blow into the machine when they get arrested for DUI or if they blow over a 0.15 BAC, they get an automatic license suspension kind of on the spot, no questions asked even before their criminal case moves forward,” Burritt said.
“That’s how we landed on recognizing Sen. Hutto, for being the sponsor of that bill and being very considerate and eloquent in his support of it,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t pass, but we appreciate greatly his efforts to try and get it passed,” Burritt said.
Hutto said he is “honored to be recognized by them.”
“MADD, over the years, has had several proactive initiatives that are aimed at reducing highway fatalities, reducing the number of incidents of people drinking and driving, and I have been supportive of them over the years, and have taken the lead on some of those issues,” Hutto said.
Hutto believes that changing the law to expand the use of ignition interlock devices will be helpful.
“It’s important because states that have implemented that law have seen a reduction in alcohol-related crashes. Anything that we can do to improve highway safety, we need to,” Hutto said.
“It’s a way that we can try and encourage people who have an issue with alcohol to seek treatment because that’s a general reminder to them that they aren’t going to be able to drive unless they don’t have any alcohol in their system,” he said.
“It’s got a track record of working.”
Hutto stated that the device could be installed for a period of up to one year, maybe longer.
“The devices can be put on the car for around $150 and then there’s a monthly maintenance fee of around $50 dollars,” Hutto said.
“The law would establish a fund for people who could not afford one that so that they too could continue to drive,” Hutto said.
Hutto believes that the device will make travel safer for citizens.
“I think we’ve got to demonstrate that this is good public policy that’ll lead to safer highways, and will lead to a reduction of people getting injured or killed on the highway and that the trade-off as it relates to the cost to the individuals and as it relates to their privacy is a good trade-off,” Hutto said.