CASE NAME: South Carolina v Taylor; Docket Number 2016-CP-42-2066; October 20, 2016
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
Lance Corporal Thornton approached Defendant while he was seated in the car and
detected an odor of alcohol along with slurred speech coming from Defendant. Lance Corporal
then asked Defendant to step out of his vehicle. The Defendant was taken in front of Lance
Corporal Thornton’s vehicle for field sobriety testing. The video recording at the incident site
shows Lance Corporal Thornton offer Defendant a field sobriety test where he is asked to recite
the alphabet. Upon completion of the field sobriety testing, Defendant was arrested for Driving
Under the Influence and Open Container. Lance Corporal Thornton then chose to move
Defendant and place him in the front of his patrol car. After moving Defendant, Lance
Corporal Thornton advised Defendant of his Miranda rights while Defendant was not visible
on the patrol car’s in-car video camera or any other video recording device. The advisement
of Miranda rights by Lance Corporal Thornton is audible on the recording, but neither Lance
Corporal Thornton nor Defendant are visible on the video recording during the advisement of
Did the arresting officer comply with the statutory requirements from the South Carolina Code with proper video recording of the defendant’s advisement of their Miranda rights?
No. In the video recording of Defendant in this matter, the arresting officer’s in-car camera is facing forward when Defendant is advised of his Miranda rights while seated in the passenger seat of Lance Corporal Thornton’s patrol car, such that one cannot see Lance Corporal Thornton advising Defendant of his Miranda rights nor any acknowledgment of the same by Defendant, as required by statute.
That pursuant to the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. §56-5-2953(A), as amended in 2008, a person charged with Driving Under the Influence must have their conduct video recorded at the incident site as follows:
(A) A person who violates Section 56-5-2930, 56-5-2933, or
56-5-2945 must have his conduct at the incident site and the
breath test site video recorded.
(1)(a) The video recording at the incident site must:
(i) not begin later than the activation of the officer’s blue
(ii) include any field sobriety tests administered; and
(iii) include the arrest of a person for a violation of Section
56-5-2930 or Section 56-5-2933, or a probable cause
determination in that the person violated Section 56-5-2945,
and show the person being advised of his Miranda rights
That the Magistrate issued a thorough order addressing the issues presented to him,
and the reasons behind his decision. Upon appeal, the Court finds no error in the Magistrate’s
reasoning or with his decision. When the statute was amended, the legislature made clear their
intention what needed to be seen on the video. While the State argues on appeal the Defendant
can show no prejudice, prejudice does not have to be shown to establish a violation of the
statute. With the legislature’s clear mandate and no exception to the mandate being argued
above, the Magistrate was correct in his ruling. Nevertheless, if prejudice was an element that
a Defendant needed to establish, when the video requirement is violated, the prejudice is that
the conduct mandated to be recorded was not recorded for evidentiary purposes.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court denies the State’s Appeal in this matter and reaffirms the dismissal of the DUI charge against the defendant.