Possible Changes Coming to South Carolina DUI Law
In South Carolina, when a person is arrested on suspicion of DUI, the arrest must be videotaped, unless the arresting officer swears that a camera was not available at the time. All aspects of the arrest, including any field sobriety tests, must be recorded. State law establishes strict standards for these recordings. However, according to NBC Charlotte, new legislation seeks to make these standards more lenient, which could leave more drivers at risk for questionable DUI convictions.
Under current state law, flaws or technical problems in a recording of a DUI arrest may provide grounds for the dismissal of the DUI charge. According to The Post and Courier, common examples of flaws or technical issues include:
- The accused individual’s face or eyes are obscured or in shadow during sobriety tests.
- The accused individual’s feet are blocked or leave the frame during heel-to-toe walks.
- The videotape runs out or loses sound at any point in the arrest.
These strict standards help protect against wrongful charges. Recordings can capture any departures from established law enforcement protocols. Recordings can also offer insight when DUI suspects and authorities give conflicting accounts of an event. Flawed recordings may lack crucial information that could make the difference between the dismissal of charges and an inappropriate conviction.
NBC Charlotte states that in late 2014, an investigative report called attention to South Carolina’s recording standards and various DUI cases that were dismissed as a result. Since the report, critics have expressed concern that the standards are too strict and that some DUI charges may be dismissed even if other evidence supports the charges.
Bills recently introduced in the South Carolina House and Senate would prevent the dismissal of DUI charges based on technical recording issues alone. Such issues could provide grounds for a recording to be thrown out as evidence, but this wouldn’t be an automatic outcome. Flawed recordings could theoretically be admissible in court, where the strength of the overall evidence presented in the recording would be evaluated.
Ensuring Appropriate Evidence
These changes could have adverse impacts on people accused of DUI, since even small flaws in a recording may obscure a key moment during an arrest. If either bill passes, more people may be at risk for questionable DUI charges.
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we understand the importance of evaluating the accuracy and legitimacy of all materials used to support a DUI charge. We know how to challenge the validity of various forms of evidence, including arrest recordings. If you have been charged with DUI, we can help you ensure that no inappropriate evidence is used against you during your case.