Lexington County has for years had more than its share of serious DUI related accidents and fatalities. This is due to a combination of factors including unforgiving roads, long distances from bars to residences, no public transit or taxi system for rural areas, as well as an ingrained culture of drinking. South Carolina is a state where more beer is consumed annually than milk.
Zero tolerance type programs can result in a number of DUI arrests based on insufficient evidence. Recently we learned that the South Carolina Highway Patrol had issued a quota system, long denied to exist, for its officers related to DUI arrests. Local police agencies are also now annually competing against each other to increase the number of DUI arrests in an organized competition where the winning agencies and officers receive awards and grants for upgraded equipment.
While no one, including myself as a criminal defense attorney, wants to see impaired drivers on our roads, we also must ensure that citizen's rights against false or unfair DUI arrests are protected. A DUI arrest or conviction can cost someone their job, which could put an entire family immediately in financial ruin. In the zeal to make arrests we must ensure that law enforcement does not overstep its bounds. My role in the process is to help people fight false, frivolous, or unfair allegations, as well as to ensure that the State conducts a serious and lawful investigation before making any DUI arrest.
To reduce the number of DUI incidents in our county and state I support a multi-pronged approach that includes better training for officers, higher visibility and increased numbers for officers, public education to encourage people to plan before they begin drinking as well as common sense enforcement of existing laws. For example it is wrong to arrest someone for public disorderly conduct who attempts to walk home from a bar rather than risk driving impaired.
For more information on how Lexington County is handling DUI cases, click here to watch my segment on WACH Fox..