SC Supreme Court Eliminates DUI Loophole, Many More Remain - WSPA.com

SC Supreme Court Eliminates DUI Loophole, Many More Remain

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South Carolina's Supreme Court closed what many judges and police called a legal loophole in the state's DUI law.  Police said many suspects know the law as well as the officers and were able to exploit loopholes to avoid conviction.

"It's very frustrating as an officer to put the time and effort into getting a drunk driver off the road and seeing them walk in the judicial system. Unfortunately it happens all the time," said Greenville Police officer Jonathan Bragg.

The law requires officers to record video of a suspect for 20 minutes before giving a breath test to determine blood alcohol content.  Drivers often refused the test and, when they did, officers would stop recording the video.

In the past, many cases would be dismissed because officers weren't following the 20 minute rule.  Now the Supreme Court said the officer should not be required to record a suspect after they've declined the take a breath test.

Magistrate Charles Garrett said that means there is one less technicality to allow alleged drunk drivers to get away without conviction but there are still a lot left.

Asked if he often sees suspects he's sure are guilty get away without charges he said, "that happens more often than not."

Defense attorneys argue the so-called loopholes are there for a reason and clients should be protected from bad field sobriety tests that set people up to fail.

"They are designed to fail rather than pass. You're being asked to do abnormal actions that nobody does in the real world," said attorney Chip Price.

Drivers are not required to take a field sobriety test but by getting a license they do give "implied consent" to take a breath test.  By refusing, drivers still face a suspended license but can avoid giving evidence that can convict them of DUI.
Price said there are still many ways to get a client out of DUI conviction.

"Those of us who try a lot of DUI cases know what to look for it's just a question of what we're going to find," Price said.

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