This summer, both the South Carolina Supreme Court and the South Carolina Court of Appeals, released significant opinions directly affecting jury trials and admissible evidence in DUI/drunk driving cases. Both of these court opinions will offer veteran defense attorneys more ammunition in defending their clients in DUI/drunk driving cases. At the end of this post you will see links to detailed summaries of both cases should you wish to read them.
Quickly – in State v Gordon the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s dismissal of a DUI charge because the defendant’s head could not clearly be seen on video while the police officer was conducting the HGN field sobriety test. The Court of Appeals held that the South Carolina DUI laws specifically require the video recording of all field tests; and therefore, dismissal was the only appropriate remedy in this case. In State v Sawyer a South Carolina Supreme Court opinion issued on June 4, 2014, the Supreme Court expressly held that all statutorily required video recordings sought to be admitted into evidence must contain both video and audio tracks to be admissible. In other words, if a video recording lacks audio of the encounter between the police officer and the driver then the appropriate remedy is suppression of that entire videotape from being received as evidence in the trial. The Supreme Court succinctly stated that the controlling DUI law in South Carolina requires audio; and if any significant amount of audio is not present, then the tape must be suppressed and not allowed into evidence at the trial in the case.
South Carolina DUI Attorney Steve Sumner primarily handles misdemeanor and felony DUI/drunk driving defense. Steve is a South Carolina Super Lawyer® in the field of DUI defense. He is a member of the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers™. He is a member the National College for DUI Defense, holds an AV-preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell® and a “Superb” ranking with Avvo. He is a frequent lecturer and author on topics related to the defense of DUI charges. He represents clients in Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties, South Carolina.