A South Carolina lawmaker – and chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee – is accused of lying to police after rear-ending a car in the Lowcountry, allegedly while under the influence, according to authorities.
Sen. Paul Campbell, 71, of Goose Creek, was charged with DUI and providing false information to police, according to Charleston County jail records.
“The charges are one thing; let’s see what comes out in court,” Campbell told The State newspaper when reached by a reporter Sunday. “I think I'm innocent, and I think in the court case it'll come out that way. I just tell people 'Don't judge me on the charge, judge me on the court case.’”
Troopers say the Republican lawmaker rear-ended another vehicle in the westbound lanes of Interstate 26 near mile marker 204 in Berkeley County around 9:15 p.m. Saturday, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. The collision happened in an area of congested traffic.
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“During the course of the investigation, there was a discrepancy as to who was driving the at-fault vehicle at the time of the collision,” said Cpl. Sonny Collins of the Highway Patrol.
Troopers eventually determined that Campbell was driving the 2017 Mercedes SUV, Collins said. After Campbell failed field sobriety tests, he was charged with DUI and providing false information to police.
No injuries were reported in the collision, which Collins said caused minor damage to both vehicles.
Campbell provided a breath sample that yielded a .09 percent blood-alcohol content, Collins said. In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.
Campbell’s wife Vicki, who was the passenger in the car, also was charged with providing false information to police, Collins said. She was released from the scene.
The lawmaker declined to go into specifics of the case while speaking with a reporter.
“I've just been told to keep my mouth shut about it and see what comes out in court,” he said. “I think we've got a pretty good case.”
Campbell, who has represented Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties in the S.C. Senate since 2007, chairs the Senate Ethics Committee. He also is the executive director and CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.
He is represented by Charleston attorney Andy Savage, who sits on the Aviation Authority’s board. Savage represented Michael Slager, a white former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot a black motorist named Walter Scott in April 2015.
Campbell was released from jail late Sunday morning on personal recognizance, according to online court records.
Providing false information to police is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail or a $200 fine, under South Carolina law. First-time DUI offenders face a misdemeanor charge and a maximum 30-day jail sentence, as well as a fine and court costs.