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How the “camera loophole” affects DUIs in South Carolina

South Carolina was rated the number one state in the U.S. for DUI-related deaths last year by the National Highway Safety Committee. According to a Horry County prosecutor, if there is one small problem with the video from the traffic stop, field sobriety tests or arrest, then the whole case can be dismissed. Police are calling it “the camera loophole” and say it is responsible for drunk drivers getting away with their crimes.

A local news channel was shown a video of a man arrested for DUI by the Horry County prosecutor. The video shows the police officer giving the man a field sobriety test after the man had ran off the road. According to the officer, the man failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus field sobriety test and he is not able to walk a straight line. The prosecutor said that it’s likely the case won’t hold up in court because the man’s face isn’t clearly seen on the video.

An instructor at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy says that they place a strong focus on DUI arrests because of the statistic showing how high the state is for DUI-related deaths. However, he said that no matter how much training new officers receive, they simply cannot control what happens when a case gets to court.

Several things can keep an officer from being able to capture every part of a field sobriety test. For example, the driver might be unable to follow the officer’s directions and take too many steps. Then the officer has to walk farther away, making the video images less than ideal.

Last year, over 100 members of law enforcement, advocates and lawmakers filed into the statehouse to ask lawmakers that instead of dismissing the whole case, simply dismiss the part of the video that contain flaws. While law enforcement officers in the state say that arrests for DUI will continue, whether or not someone doesn’t drive anymore will be the responsibility of lawmakers.

If you have been charged with a DUI in South Carolina, it’s possible that “the camera loophole” can affect your case. Your attorney will be able to provide you with more information.

Source: WBTW.com, “News 13 Investigates: Police say ‘camera loophole’ is letting people get away with DUI,” Taylor Herlong, May 12, 2016

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