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On Jan. 10, a South Carolina state trooper stopped a swerving vehicle on the suspicion that the driver may have been intoxicated. The driver turned out to work for the South Carolina Department of Safety as the chief of the Office of Professional Responsibility. The man argued with the officer, refused to participate in field sobriety tests and was handcuffed as a result.

The driver eventually took and passed the field sobriety tests. He was not charged with driving under the influence. However, the Department of Public Safety fired the driver for his conduct during the police stop. The department has a code of ethics that requires its employees to behave with courtesy and integrity.

A patrol car video taken of the incident shows the former chief make disparaging comments about the South Carolina Police Department. He asked repeatedly for the name of the trooper's supervisor and demanded to talk to other high-level officials with the department. A South Carolina Department of Public Safety corporal later arrived on the scene and consulted with his supervisors.

South Carolina law carries strict penalties for convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol, including fines and jail time. If the driver's blood alcohol level was above .10 percent, or it is not his or her first DUI arrest, the minimum penalties are increased. Additionally, drunk driving arrests can result in professional and social consequences, as we see in this case. Any person faces charges of driving under the influence may benefit from speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "SC Public Safety internal affairs chief fired," Feb. 2, 2013

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