The former director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving in connection with a DUI charge he received in January 2014.
Robert St. Onge pleaded guilty to the reckless driving charge Monday and paid a $445 fine after it appeared that proper procedures were not followed during his arrest.
St. Onge, 67, resigned the same day he was arrested. The incident happened shortly before 8 a.m. on a Friday when St. Onge was stopped by a Lexington County sheriff’s deputy for driving erratically on Interstate 20 near Bush River Road.
Joe McCulloch, who represented St. Onge at Monday’s hearing, said he discussed motions he was planning to make during the hearing with the prosecution. A deal was reached after the prosecution conceded there were problems with their case.
McCulloch said the deputy who initially stopped St. Onge did not have a video camera in his vehicle to record the interaction. A state. Highway Patrol trooper arrived on the scene after the sheriff's deputy to administer the field sobriety test, recorded on his video camera.
In 1999, the General Assembly enacted a law that required all traffic enforcement vehicles to have a camera.
McCulloch also said proper procedures were not followed leading up to the field sobriety test and Breathalyzer, which St. Onge took after he was taken to the Lexington County Detention Center.
Also, the Datamaster machine that would have recorded St. Onge’s blood-alcohol content level had had repeated malfunctions, McCulloch said. One malfunction occurred on the day St. Onge used the Breathalyzer at the jail. He had a 0.20 percent blood-alcohol, more than twice the legal indication of drunkeness.