Crime & Courts

Solicitor Barney Giese faces DUI charge

*File* 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese, right, confers Tuesday 4/15/2008 with Deputy Solicitor John Meador, left, during the trial of Mark Richardson, who is charged with the 2001 murder of Shelton Sanders.
*File* 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese, right, confers Tuesday 4/15/2008 with Deputy Solicitor John Meador, left, during the trial of Mark Richardson, who is charged with the 2001 murder of Shelton Sanders. Erik Campos

Fifth Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese was charged June 29 with driving under the influence in downtown Charleston, according to a Charleston police report.

Giese, the chief prosecutor in Richland and Kershaw counties, failed three of four field sobriety tests after his Lincoln sedan was stopped after it made an illegal left turn, the report says.

The car turned onto Meeting Street from North Market Street, then back onto Market going the wrong way about 11:48 p.m., the report says.

Giese refused to provide a breath sample at the police department, the report says, triggering an automatic suspension of his driver’s license.

Under state law, anyone who refuses a breath test automatically has his or her driver’s license suspended for six months.

Giese, 51, was taken to the Charleston County Detention Center. He will be required to attend a court hearing.

Giese, a Democrat, was elected to a fourth term in 2006.

He released a statement after a reporter called Tuesday night.

“We are looking forward to resolving this matter as soon as possible ...,” he said in the statement. “It would be inappropriate for me to comment on this incident except to say that I am consulting with my attorney and law enforcement to determine the best resolution of this matter.”

Giese said he would have no further comment on the matter.

“I will continue to serve the people of Richland and Kershaw counties as I have for the past 15 years.”

When he was initially stopped by police, he “had the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person,” the report says.

Asked to step out of the car and walk to the rear, Giese “had to support himself as he walked by placing his left arm on the side of the vehicle,” the report says.

During one test, he was asked to count backwards from 87 to 63, the report says.

He reached 73, then followed with “79, 73, 72, 71, 70, 69, 68 ... paused, and stated ‘No one can do this test,” according to the report.

As Giese was being taken to jail, he “made the statement that he should not have been driving tonight.”

Asked what he meant, Giese stated, “He was not going to respond,” the report says.

It’s not the first time a Midlands solicitor has been charged with driving under the influence.

Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers was arrested in 2005 for the offense while attending a conference in Asheville, N.C.

Myers said at the time he had a few drinks that night but didn’t remember how many.

Officers found an open beer in his county-owned car, but Myers said it wasn’t his and he didn’t know who put it there.

Myers pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year’s probation.

Reach Higgins at (803) 771-8570.

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