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Some claim councilman's son should have been charged for DUI

Previous postings in this blog have discussed the ramifications involved in facing accusations of driving while intoxicated. Some of these postings have also discussed the potentially reputation-damaging consequences that a DUI charge can also have on the life of a person that works in the public eye.

However, a recent situation that occurred in South Carolina has left some residents looking down upon a councilman, his son and a police officer after a traffic arrest that did not result in DUI charges. Is it possible that the lack of criminal charges can also negatively impact a person's reputation?

Questions surrounding the situation arose after a police officer pulled over a councilman's son. The officer's dashboard video camera was turned off, but the officer's belt camera recorded the interaction. According to the officer, the boy was pulled over for traveling 51 mph in a 30 mph zone. On the recording, the officer mentions his status as a DUI specialist, as well as the boy's inability to drive and the fact that he illegally had numerous state IDs. However, at that point, instead of conducting a field sobriety test, the officer let the boy go with a warning.

The officer has been suspended with pay while the situation is investigated. However, the mayor states that he has viewed the video and the boy did not seem visibly intoxicated. In addition, the mayor said that issuing a ticket for speeding is up to the police officer and in this case the officer decided to issue a warning.

In South Carolina, if a police officer requests a field sobriety test it must be video taped under state law. If that sobriety test results in DUI charges, then the video tape may be used as evidence in the case proceedings. However, in this case the officer did not, for whatever reason, find it necessary to administer a field sobriety test yet some members of the society see this as favoritism for the councilman's son. But, the mayor and the officer assure that was not the case. The situation is still being investigated and it is unknown how it will impact the officer's job or the councilman's son.

If a police officer administers field sobriety testing and it results in DUI charges, it could mean monetary fines, temporary or permanent loss of a driver's license and a jail sentence for the driver. Therefore, it is always important to get an experienced defense attorney involved as soon as charges are issued, or even before they are issued if the driver believes being charged with a crime is a possibility.

Source: WISTV.com, "Wagener police officer suspended after traffic stop with councilman's son," Brett Buffington, Oct. 11, 2013

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