Police overreach is a growing problem in our nation and can bleed over into seemingly simple arrests, such as arrests for driving under the influence.
Per South Carolina law, police in the state must record traffic stops based on probable cause DUI and DUI based on breath tests. These recordings can help demonstrate whether a subsequent arrest was lawfully conducted.
Police must record your DUI stop
Under South Carolina Code Section 56-5-2953, if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and arrested for probable cause or arrested per the results of a breath test, police must video record the procedure at the incident site. The recording must begin as soon as the police turn on their vehicle’s blue lights.
The recording must include both the breath test and any field sobriety tests administered. It must cover the entirety of the breath test. It must capture the police informing you that you are being recorded and you have the right not to submit to the breath test if you choose.
The recording must capture either you submitting to the breath test or refusing to take it. It also must show the actions of the police giving you the test.
The recording also must capture your behavior while waiting the mandatory 20-minute period before taking the test, unless the police can swear by certified affidavit that doing so was physically impossible.
Finally, the recording must capture your arrest for driving under the influence, including the reading of your Miranda rights.
Recordings can be rebutted
While DUI recordings are mandatory under South Carolina law, they do not stop prosecutors from submitting other evidence at a subsequent DUI trial.
Your case will not automatically be dismissed if police cannot provide the court with a recording of your DUI breath test or probable cause arrest as long as the police can provide a sworn affidavit stating that:
- The recording equipment was inoperable at the time
- Reasonable efforts were taken to keep the equipment in good working order
- They could not record the incident because you needed emergency medical aid or exigent circumstances existed such as roadblocks or a car crash investigation
DUI arrest recordings can protect your rights. They can be used to demonstrate that your rights were honored or, conversely, were violated.
Still, using this recording to show a violation of rights does not always mean your case will automatically be dismissed. So, you will want to make sure you utilize all defense strategies at your disposal to demonstrate why your DUI charges should be dropped.