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What Is an Administrative Hearing in South Carolina in DUI/Drunk Driving Cases?

First, this is a confusing area of the law for many drivers who find themselves arrested or charged with DUI and also facing an “administrative suspension.” If you are confused, it is probably because it is confusing. What is an “administrative suspension” and what is an “administrative hearing?”

Greenville County Circuit Judge Reverses DUI Conviction

CASE NAME: Kathryn Key vs. South Carolina (Case No.: 2016-CP-23-06517; February 4, 2017)

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

On December, 10, 2015, the Appellant (” Key”) was involved in an automobile wreck at approximately 8:47 a.m. Shortly thereafter, emergency medical personnel (“EMS personnel”) arrived on scene. As EMS personnel were removing Key from her vehicle, Trooper Campbell, (“Campbell”) the investigating/arresting officer, arrived at the scene of the accident. At that time, Campbell did not speak with Key because she was unconscious. EMS personnel transported Key to the emergency room at Greenville Memorial Hospital. Initially, Campbell remained at the scene of the accident in order to conduct an investigation as to the cause of the accident.

Georgia State Court Suppresses HGN Test and Breath Results from DUI Trial

CASE NAME:  Georgia vs. Council (Case No. 16-T-18312; December 14, 2016)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

On November 2, 2016, the above-styled case came before this court for a specially set trial, with pending motions filed by the Defendant to be heard immediately prior to trial. The Defendant’s Second Amended Motion in Limine and the evidence produced at the motion hearing through witness testimony and exhibits focused on two issues: (1) exclusion of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) for lack of proper administration; and (2) whether the administration of the breath alcohol test, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1(b), was constitutional. The constitutional issues presented focused on the Georgia Constitution 1983, Article I, Section I, Paragraph XVI.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Suppresses Blood Test Results in Deadly Felony DUI Case

Case Name: South Carolina vs. Shannon (Orangeburg County, SC; Court of General Sessions; Case Number 2014A3810700545; Filed August 9, 2016)

FACTS:

On February 16, 2014, Shannon and Eartha Lee Kennerly (“Kennerly”) were traveling south on Bozard Road in Orangeburg County. While on Bozard Road, Shannon drove through a stop sign, went off the road, and struck an embankment, causing the vehicle to overturn. Law enforcement and medical personnel responded to the scene shortly thereafter. Kennerly died from internal injuries sustained in the accident. Shannon, however, was coherent, but in pain. While medical personnel were attempting to remove Shannon from the vehicle and stabilize him—a process which took approximately two hours—Officer Norton of the South Carolina Highway Patrol drove to Richland County to obtain a search warrant to conduct a blood test on Shannon.

Officer Norton ultimately obtained a search warrant to conduct the blood test. Although the search warrant was obtained through the proper procedures and signed by the issuing magistrate, it did not contain an affidavit of probable cause signed by Officer Norton. Nevertheless, acting on the warrant, Shannon’s blood was drawn while he was being hospitalized and prior to being arrested. The test revealed that he had alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of the collision. Shannon was later arrested and charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in death.

Shannon filed a motion to suppress the blood test results, arguing that the taking of the blood test without his consent violated the Fourth Amendment and Article I, section 10 of the South Carolina Constitution. The State conceded in oral argument that the search warrant was invalid, but maintains that a search warrant was unnecessary under S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2946. This court heard oral arguments of counsel on November 12, 2015.

“Spartanburg Circuit Judge Agrees with Dismissal of DUI Charge”

CASE NAME: South Carolina v Taylor; Docket Number 2016-CP-42-2066; October 20, 2016

FACTS:

On June 11, 2015, at approximately 4:35 a.m., Lance Corporal R.B. Thornton of the South Carolina Highway Patrol responded to a call regarding a vehicle in a ditch on Nahant Street off of Hayne Street in Spartanburg County. Upon arriving on scene, Lance Corporal Thornton was met by Deputy Woodward of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, who had placed a call to the South Carolina Highway Patrol for assistance after locating the vehicle.

“South Carolina Court of Appeals Issues Latest DUI Decision”

CASE NAME:  State vs. Walters (SC Ct. App. No. 5443; September 28, 2016)

FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:

On July 13, 2014, Walters was arrested for DUI in York County. On that date, Trooper Mike McAdams, the arresting officer, administered a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. While his dashboard camera was recording, Trooper McAdams positioned Walters in front of his patrol car facing away from the camera and conducted the test. According to Trooper McAdams, Walters was turned away from the patrol car to prevent the flashing lights from causing a false positive on the HGN test.

“Can the Police Get My Medical Records?”

This topic or question often comes up when we represent clients accused of DUI/Drunk Driving that have been involved in an accident and have been taken to a hospital and are charged with DUI in the process.  Most of the time our clients have refused to provide a blood sample for testing when requested by the police officer – but can the police subsequently go back and try to obtain a copy of the medical records and see if the hospital ran a blood alcohol test on their own during treatment?

“Emma’s Law” (S.137) clears first hurdle and is unanimously voted out of the South Carolina House of Representative Criminal Law Subcommittee.

On March 20, 2014, a key subcommittee hearing related to the potential passage of South Carolina Senate Bill S.137 (a/k/a Emma’s Law) was held at the South Carolina Legislature. The hearing was well attended and many voices were present urging the subcommittee to pass “Emma’s Law.”  S.137 has been renamed “Emma’s Law” due to the tragic death of the child Emma Longstreet at the hands of a multiple and repeat drunk driving offender in Columbia last year.  Her unfortunate death has galvanized community support for the passage of S.137.  Debbie Ware, statewide chairman for MADD, emphasized that, according to several national studies, 67 percent of failed drunk driving collisions involve a repeat offender; and additionally, a repeat drunk driving offender is eight times more likely to be involved in a failed DUI accident than a driver with only one prior DUI conviction.  After hearing testimony from various citizens, the subcommittee voted 5-0 to send “Emma’s Law” onto the full House of Representatives Criminal Law Committee for its consideration.  Most observers believed that “Emma’s Law” will be fully endorsed by the South Carolina House of Representatives, the South Carolina Senate and will be signed into law by Governor Haley before the end of the 2014 session.

Recent Results

August 2018

  • State v. M.A.

    • Charge: DUI, Simple Possession of Marijuana, and Driving Under a Suspended License.
    • Facts: Client pulled over for speeding.
    • Result: DUI charges dropped. Client pleads guilty to Speeding.
  • State v. D.C.S.

    • Charge: Arrested for DUI
    • Facts: Client called to pick up son in police custody.
    • Result: DUI charges dropped; Client pleads guilty to Public Disorderly Conduct and agrees to pay court fines and perform community service.
  • State v. W.L.B.

    • Charge: DUI
    • Facts: Officer responded to a phone call complaining of an impaired driver.
    • Result: DUI dismissed and ticket for Reckless Driving plus court fees and mandatory community service hours
  • State v. C.L.R.

    • Charge: DUI
    • Facts: Client was pulled over for having a tail light out and for failing to maintain lane.
    • Result: DUI dismissed and ticket for Reckless and court fine levied.
  • State v. D.J.M.

    • Charge: DUI and Child Endangerment
    • Facts: Officer responded to a three vehicle collision in Traveler’s Rest
    • Result: Above charges dismissed with new Reckless Driving ticket issues and court fines levied.

Steve Sumner

  • 112 Manly Street
  • Greenville, SC 29601
  • Phone
  • (864) 235-3834
  • Fax
  • (864) 233-8781

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