How South Carolina’s Police Video Law Affects DUI Cases
Tough law helps ensure fair trials and prevent police misconduct in DUI cases
South Carolina has some of the toughest laws requiring police to record video of any field sobriety test or breath test, according to the state. The laws, although controversial with some, are designed to ensure that people accused of failing a field sobriety test and drunk driving have access to video evidence rather than just having to rely on claims made by police. In some cases, if police fail to comply with the law, a DUI defendant may have his or her case dismissed.
In-car video law
The law requires police to turn on their in-car videos at any traffic stop, including during a field sobriety test. DUI video laws also require police to maintain video evidence of any breath test performed on people suspected of drunk driving. John Drennan and other South Carolina lawyers were involved in the drafting and passing of this most unique yet critical law regarding the handling of DUI cases. No other state has this mandatory requirement of videotaping. 56-5-2953. 1998
The video requirements are some of the toughest in the country and help to make sure that DUI defendants get a fair trial by providing courts with video evidence of sobriety tests. According to WCNC News, the video must show the complete conduct of the sobriety test, meaning that in most cases, no part of the defendant’s body can be hidden from the camera.
The law is not without controversy, with prosecutors claiming that it makes it too difficult to convict people of DUI. However, the law does help ensure that police do their jobs properly and that courts have more than just police statements to go on when trying somebody for DUI. Mainly, the law was designed to end needless litigation.
Failure by police to comply with the law can mean that a DUI case could be thrown out. Although critics are working on getting South Carolina lawmakers to give police more flexibility in complying with the law, others point out that full compliance helps make sure that police also behave properly in the course of their duties. Indeed, in some instances, dismissing DUI cases where police refused or failed to comply with the video law was the only way of making sure they complied in the future.
While the above story shows that a DUI charge is never a done deal in South Carolina, people charged with DUI should not simply assume that they will easily be able to avoid a conviction as a result of the video law. Indeed, despite the strong police video laws, South Carolina also has some of the harshest penalties in the country for people who are convicted of drunk driving.
Anybody charged with DUI needs to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will look at all evidence, including vital video evidence, to defend a client and fight a serious and potentially damaging DUI charge.