Supreme Court Ruling Affecting DUI Court Proceedings - WSPA.com

Supreme Court Ruling Affecting DUI Court Proceedings

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A Supreme Court ruling is changing the way DUI cases are investigated across the Upstate and it may affect how some pending cases are being tried in court. A Supreme Court ruling is changing the way DUI cases are investigated across the Upstate and it may affect how some pending cases are being tried in court.
GREENVILLE, S.C. - A Supreme Court ruling is changing the way DUI cases are investigated across the Upstate and it may affect how some pending cases are being tried in court.

One of those cases went before a judge in Greenville, Thursday.

“I'm truly, truly sorry. I never meant for anything like this to ever happen,” said Lawrence Brown to the grief stricken family of Kevin Webster.

Thursday, Brown pled guilty to driving drunk last May. He admitted to crashing into Webster’s car. Webster died on scene. His daughter, who was undergoing cancer treatments at the time, was also hurt.

Family and friends listened intently as the judge handed over a 7 1/2 year sentence. While it was more than they expected, Webster’s brother in law, David Brookie, was hoping for more.

“No family is ever going to feel like they got what they wanted, but I definitely think it should have been more than 7.5 years,” he said.

The Solicitor’s office told 7 on your side reporter, Addie Hampton, 7 1/2 years is normal based on the facts. Brown had no prior record, but had this gone to court, there was a danger that brown could have walked free.

Why? The answer is Missouri vs. McNeely; a game changing Supreme Court case decided last year regarding DUI investigations.

“It was a 5-4 opinion that said in most cases, you should get a warrant before you draw blood,” explained Solicitor Walt Wilkins.

Wilkins said that blood test tells them what the suspect's alcohol level is.

“We have this chunk of cases, and this case was one of them, where we didn't get a warrant,” he explained.

He said these cases happened before the ruling came out. Had this case been tried, Wilkins feels defense would have argued that blood test was not admissible.

“If he was successful arguing the case from the Supreme Court, our case is over and this particular defendant would walk free,” said Wilkins.

Wilkins calls the ruling a gray area that they are working through.

“Now we get warrants every time we draw blood, so that issue will most likely not arise again,” he said.

The Solicitor’s Office said they have 16 pending felony DUI cases in Greenville County. They said less violent offenders usually face between 7 to 9 years, while the more violent offenders can see 15 years.

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Addie Hampton
Addie is a general assignment reporter covering Greenville, Pickens and Laurens Counties.
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