South Carolina DUI videotaping law protects the rights of those accused

By James Morton

Law enforcement officers are bound by the laws that spell out how they must conduct DUI investigations. Those laws are designed to protect the rights of the accused and to provide the best information should the case go to trial.

In South Carolina, the requirements include videotaping DUI investigations and arrests. It’s a law that dates back to the mid-1990s in our state, and we were one of the first states to make videotaping a requirement.

South Carolina DUI videotaping law is very specific about what the video must show in the case of every drunk driving arrest. Though prosecutors have complained that the law makes DUI convictions very difficult, the requirement does protect those who are accused and helps ensure that police follow proper procedures in DUI arrests.

South Carolina’s law, SC Code of law section 56-5-2953, requires that police vehicles be equipped with recording equipment. It also spells out what the video must include. It establishes the point at which the video must begin and requires that all aspects of the stop, field sobriety testing, arrest and reading of Miranda warnings must be recorded and available for trial.

This “video requirement” is extremely helpful in court proceedings. It provides the most accurate evidence in a drunk driving case. The recording lets jurors observe the video and reach their own conclusions about whether a driver is impaired. The video lets a jury consider first-hand evidence rather than hearing only the arresting officer’s version.

In preparing a DUI defense, Morton & Gettys attorneys carefully evaluate videos from an arrest. We can identify conversations or conduct that tend to show a person was not under the influence. In a jury trial, we emphasize these favorable facts and also question the officer’s investigation if he or she fails to mention evidence that tends to hurt the case. Through that process, we attempt to raise the “reasonable doubt” that can lead to a jury verdict of “not guilty.”

The video requirement can be more than a helpful evidentiary tool. In many cases, if the video is not provided or doesn’t contain everything it is supposed to, the drunk driving charge will be dismissed.

At Morton & Gettys, we understand that just because you were arrested for DUI it does not mean you are guilty. We will examine all evidence, including video recordings, to make sure you have the best possible chances of being cleared of the charge. If you are arrested on a DUI charge in Central Upstate South Carolina, it is very important to consult an experienced local DUI lawyer. Morton & Gettys offers free consultations on drunk driving charges, so contact us today.

James Morton is an attorney with Morton & Gettys Law Firm in Rock Hill, SC. A former prosecutor, his practice incorporates a range of criminal cases, including DUI. You can reach him at (803) 366-3388.

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