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South Carolina sheriff accused of hit-and-run DUI accident

The Berkeley County Sheriff was charged with DUI and hit-and run by the South Carolina State Patrol on Dec. 28 following an accident. According to reports, the 63-year-old sheriff allegedly hit a 21-year-old man's car before driving away from the accident scene. The young man was reportedly injured in the accident, but his specific injuries were not reported.

Sources indicate that the accident happened around 5:50 a.m. at the intersection of Henry E. Brown Jr. Boulevard and Red Bank Road. Following the accident, the sheriff, who is currently serving his fifth term in office, reportedly left the scene in his truck.

The sheriff, who was sent to jail in Charleston County, was taken to Berkeley County for his bail hearing. Prosecutors reportedly called the court's attention to a law dating from 1839 and revised in 1962 that indicates that, in order for a sheriff to be arrested, he must be served by the coroner. Prosecutors indicated they only brought it to the attention of the court to short-circuit any potential later defense arguments. The magistrate hearing the case released the sheriff from custody on his own recognizance and indicated the charges will stand. The sheriff remains in his job although the governor indicated she intends to relieve him in the event his charges lead to an indictment.

The sheriff's case is illustrative of the fact that people from all walks of life can face drunk driving charges. Although such charges are common, the potential penalties a person may face if convicted can be severe. Individuals accused of DUI may want to try to secure a favorable plea to a non-drinking offense or a lesser offense. By doing so, they may be able to avoid jail and limit possible license suspension.

Source: The Post and Courier, "Berkeley County Sheriff DeWitt remains on job; authorities think DUI arrest will stand", Andrew Knapp, December 29, 2014

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