Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) blasted a South Carolina law last month that has made dash cam videos a required piece of evidence in DUI cases.
MADD thinks that faults and errors in the video making process are leading to plea deals that result in less serious charges.
“Here in South Carolina we simply make it too difficult to enforce and prosecute DUI cases,” MADD State Director Steven Burritt stated in an August media interview. “There are things in our state laws, and loopholes, and the way we provide resources to prosecution, that leads to lots of challenges…including the fact that so many cases are getting pled down because of the number of technicalities folks have to deal with as they prosecute the case.”
South Carolina’s statute for dash cam video recording mandates that the video is recorded as soon as the police officer sees a suspected drunk driver. The law also requires that the officer record when the suspect is placed under arrest and placed into the police car.
Burritt noted that if there is any type of glitch or imperfection in the video, if someone leaves the frame, or the video is lost, the state often cannot get a DUI conviction.
Burritt stated that even if the officer sees erratic driving and smells alcohol on the person, the case can be thrown out if the dash video is deficient in any way.
The data suggest that the dash cam law may be having an effect on the rate of DUI convictions in South Carolina. National data from MADD shows an average 68% conviction rate for all DUI charges in the US. South Carolina officers and prosecutors say that their conviction rate these days is below 50%.
MADD hopes that publicity about the lower rate of DUI convictions in South Carolina will lead to an amendment to the dash cam statute that states that other evidence in the DUI arrest can be used even if there is an abnormality with the video.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes every day due to drunk driving. This is a death every 51 minutes. Our Virgina and North Carolina drunk driving attorneys are alarmed that this statute in South Carolina could be causing a reduction in the number of DUI convictions. If a charge is reduced from DUI to reckless driving, the alleged drunk driver will likely receive a less severe punishment. This may lead to a higher chance of the same person drinking and driving again.
Our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have seen the devastating consequences of drunk driving in many personal injury and wrongful death settlements involving alcohol. Our hope is that the South Carolina law will be amended as MADD wishes.