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March 2013 Archives

Breath test thrown out for alleged bad instructions

A South Carolina municipal judge said that a breath test could not be used as evidence in a court case because the police officer who administered it reportedly gave incorrect instructions during the test. Datamaster is the only machine that police officers can use when giving breath tests in South Carolina, and according to an instructional video, users should not be instructed to blow hard. A police officer reportedly told the person being tested several times to do just that.The Datamaster works by using infrared lights to absorb air that comes out of someone's mouth. How the light absorbs the air is determined by its contents, and the amount of ethanol from alcoholic beverages can be measured. Since the most accurate readings come from deep lung air, officers are instructed to tell people to take deep breaths and blow as long as they can. Because the machine expects a continuous exhalation, blowing harder may produce higher results.

Government official arrested for impaired driving

A 52-year-old government official was taken into custody on March 2 for a DUI after his involvement in an accident in Mt. Pleasant, in which he rammed into another car at a red light. The suspect admitted he had some drinks. According to the police report, an officer could smell the odor of alcohol and observed what appeared to be alcohol spots on his clothing. He allegedly struggled as he attempted to do basic tasks and slurred his words. The suspect could not perform field sobriety tests and was taken into custody for a DUI. He would not submit to a breathalyzer test. The suspect, who has served as a government official since 2009, was released without bail on his own recognizance.

New law requires ignition interlock for drivers convicted of DUI

A new bill has recently passed the South Carolina Senate that would require DUI first offenders with blood alcohol percentages over .12 to install ignition interlocks on their vehicles. Currently, those convicted of drunk driving charges for a second time are required to install interlock devices. Under the new law, second and subsequent offenses by drivers with BACs of .08 or higher would still be subject to mandated interlocks, but first-time high-level BAC drivers would also fall under the rule.Ignition interlock devices require drivers to blow into a tube that records blood-alcohol level before the car will start. A small camera records the driver's image to be sure that the person blowing into the tube is the intended driver.

Prison for student who killed pastor in drunk driving accident

In 2011, an intoxicated 20-year-old University of South Carolina student drove up onto a sidewalk, hitting two cars and killing a pastor. The drunk driving accident occurred at Whaley and Assembly Street where the student ran a red light at the intersection. Witnesses stated that the student's Ford Escape continued on the sidewalk for roughly half a block before impact. The 71-year-old Midlands pastor, who occupied the second vehicle that was hit, was pronounced dead at the site of the accident. The drunk driving charges were heard by a Columbia judge nearly two years after the fatal accident occurred. Although the student could have been sentenced for 25 years, the judge imposed a prison sentence of 15 years and a $10,100 fine following the student's guilty plea to the DUI charge. Her sentence was suspended to one year with a five-year probation.

Proposed bill would require breathalyzer program for offenders

The South Carolina Senate is now considering a bill that would require first time DUI offenders to install ignition-interlock breathalyzers in their vehicles. If the new law passes, people who fail field sobriety tests with a blood-alcohol content of .12 percent or more would be required to connect a breathalyzer to the ignition in their automobile. Currently, the law only requires second and third offenders to do so. When a breathalyzer is installed in a vehicle, people have to pass a blood-alcohol test before the automobile will start. Under the current law, people with multiple DUIs are required to install these devices after having their licenses suspended so that driving privileges can be restored.

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