Several important cases have appeared in the South Carolina Appellate Courts during the last few months. One such case is State v. Sawyer decided by the S.C. Supreme Court in Opinion No. 27393 on June 4, 2014. The Supreme Court was reviewing an unpublished opinion of the S.C. Court of Appeals which held that the statutory mandate that the breath site videotape “must include the reading of Miranda Rights, the entire breath test procedure, the person being informed that he is being videotaped, and that he has the right to refuse the test…” S.C. Code Ann. §56-5-2953. The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals’ opinion which indicates that he taping of the required warnings must include video and audio.
The South Carolina legislature has mandated that certain things be videotaped, both at the incident site and the breath test site, for all DUI arrest. While they are often called “loop holes” by law enforcement, it is actually a very important protection for the general public. Your constitutional rights which would normally prevail in any criminal investigation, including your right to remain silent and your right to counsel, have been curtailed by Court decisions throughout the last 20 years for a DUI investigation. It has often been said that there is a “DUI exception” for our Constitutional rights. The South Carolina legislature has partially reinstated some of those rights for the South Carolina motoring public. One such way is the institution of the videotaping statute.
One reason the video tape is so important is that the tape does not lie. The officer and the defendant are held to a higher standard of truthfulness when the video is there to either corroborate their story or to show any exaggerations. Our statute mandates certain things that must be captured on videotape or else the officer must provide a valid reason prior to trial for failure to produce the videotape.
The DUI law in South Carolina has many intricacies which are important for protecting your rights. Having an attorney that understands the law and can make certain that all of your rights are protected is essential. The State should have to meet their statutory obligations prior to revoking someone’s license, fining them thousands of dollars, forcing them to attend classes, causing them to lose their job, or even incarcerating them for a crime which they may not have committed. Choosing a knowledgeable, local attorney is crucial to protecting your rights.