Prosecutor Donnie Myers will be the focus of an anti-drunk driving rally Thursday in Lexington, which two years ago was ground zero for fighting repeat DUI offenders.
The protest over Myers’ Monday night collision with a utility pole and subsequent DUI charge — not his first — is slated for noon at the judicial center in downtown Lexington.
Myers has ignored calls to resign his long-held position as 11th circuit solicitor, said rally organizer David Longstreet, who helped pushed though DUI reform laws after his 6-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2012 while the family was on their way to church.
Critics also are starting to search for someone to oppose Myers in this year’s solicitor’s race, saying his latest alcohol-related arrest raises questions about whether he is too compromised to prosecute DUI offenses.
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“We’re trying to find the right candidate,” Longstreet, of Lexington, said, adding that it makes no difference if it’s a Republican or Democrat who would oppose Myers, who is set to appear in court March 21.
The rally Longstreet is organizing will feature various groups that will outline why they feel Myers no longer is suitable to continue in a post he has held for 40 years.
Emma’s Law, the hard-fought state law that passed the General Assembly in 2014 and toughens DUI penalties, is named for Longstreet’s daughter.
But it does not apply in Myers’ case.
Under Emma’s Law, if Myers had two convictions within 10 years, he would have to get an ignition interlock device to prevent his car from starting if he has been drinking. Convictions in other states do count. But Myers’ previous conviction in North Carolina was 11, not 10, years ago.
Also, Myers blew a .09, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. If he had blown a .15 or more, under Emma’s Law he also would have had to get an ignition interlock device. Drivers must blow into the device before attempting to start their cars; a car won’t start if a driver blows more than .02.
South Carolina has one of the nation’s top high fatality rates connected to drunk driving. From 2003 to 2012, more than 3,800 people were killed in South Carolina in drunk driving accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Lawyers representing drunk drivers in court cases are known for exploiting loopholes in state law that often allow drunks to get back on the road again.
Laura Hudson, executive director of the S.C. Crime Victims’ Council and former S.C. chair of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said Myers should volunteer for the device anyway.
“He has an alcohol problem,” she said.
Meanwhile, details continue to emerge about the incident.
Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said he has been told Myers “flagged someone down” for a ride home from the accident scene, about a mile from Myers’ house.
Koon said he doesn’t know who that person was, but he said it wasn’t a deputy.
Myers told law enforcement he didn’t know the person who gave him a ride, according to Lt. Kelley Hughes with the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
Authorities received two calls reporting Myers’ crash — one from Myers himself, DPS spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli said.
“The trooper stopped by the collision site briefly and then proceeded to Mr. Myers’ residence,” Iacobelli said. Around the same time, “there was also a call that came into us from an outside party reporting the collision.”
A trooper also discovered a loaded pistol in the driver-side floorboard of Myers’ vehicle, according to the incident report.
Hughes said the pistol was loaded and the vehicle was unlocked when responders arrived.
When a trooper went to Myers’ house, Myers told him he had had one drink and hadn’t had a drink since arriving home, according to the incident report.
He failed sobriety tests and was charged with DUI.
Myers is known across South Carolina for his take-no-prisoners approach in murder cases. Over the years, he has won dozens of death penalty cases.
Myers was apparently injured somewhat in the incident, telling a trooper he had hit his nose in the collision.
The trooper offered to call EMS, but Myers refused treatment, according to Iacobelli.
Efforts to reach Myers have not been successful.