Letters to the Editor

August 31, 2014

Sunday letters: Solid DUI cases subverted in S.C.

In Cindi Ross Scoppe’s July 29 column, “SC law still stacks deck in favor of drunk drivers,” she pointed out many of the shortcomings in our state DUI laws and their prosecution. This is consistent with what I’ve heard, as police officers across the state tell me how often small shortcomings in arrest recordings cause dismissed cases. For example:

In Cindi Ross Scoppe’s July 29 column, “SC law still stacks deck in favor of drunk drivers,” she pointed out many of the shortcomings in our state DUI laws and their prosecution. This is consistent with what I’ve heard, as police officers across the state tell me how often small shortcomings in arrest recordings cause dismissed cases. For example:

1. The officer tells the person to take nine heel-to-toe steps and turn, but he takes 13 and steps out of the shot. Case dismissed.

2. The driver is asked to follow the officer’s finger with his eyes, but the driver’s feet aren’t visible in the shot — as if that should matter. Case dismissed.

3. Same test. There’s not enough light to see the person’s eyes on the tape. (Keep in mind that the video equipment is a patrol car dash cam, typically on the side of a road, at night.) Case dismissed.

4. Too much light. Case dismissed.

No other state has a video requirement like ours, and apparently we need better legislative wording that will stop the practice of judges dropping cases for minor video flaws. Our citizens were fantastic in their support for Emma’s Law. However, its life-saving impact can’t be fully realized if we’re losing convictions on otherwise solid cases.

Steven Burritt

Program manager

MADD S.C.

Irmo

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