Lack of Video Evidence Leads Judge to Dismiss DUI Charges Against NFL Player
Just before Thanksgiving, Thigpen was found asleep in a Wendy’s fast food drive-thru. The Myrtle Beach resident was released on a $1,000 surety bond on Sunday morning, November 24th. Police allegedly were called when someone at a BP gas station near the Wendy’s saw Thigpen’s black Cadillac SUV pull into the drive-thru and then stop. Police observed that the vehicle did not move for 20 minutes. When they approached, they found Thigpen asleep in the front seat with his foot on the brake, so police suspected a DUI.
Thigpen admitted that he had been drinking at the bar Broadway on the Beach with some friends before pulling into the Wendy’s. One of the police officers noticed that Thigpen smelled strongly of alcohol. Officers asked Thigpen to undergo field sobriety tests, which he refused, so he was taken to jail, where he also refused a breathalyzer test.
Now, a Horry County magistrate has dismissed the DUI charges against Thigpen because the state did not meet video requirements like reading the arrestee his Miranda rights.
“The magistrate judge dismissed the DUI charge against Thigpen due to the state’s failure to meet the statutorily mandated video requirements of the happenings at the incident site,” Thigpen’s attorney said in an email. “Mr. Thigpen no longer faces any charges.”
The dash cam video of the DUI arrest in November has no sound, so officers could not prove that they followed South Carolina DUI arrest law.
DUI Videotaping Laws in South Carolina
DUI laws in South Carolina require a police officer to videotape all aspects of a DUI arrest and any testing whether onsite or in the police station. Dash cams must be turned on at the same time as the blue lights.
The videotape must include the person pulled for DUI being advised of his/her Miranda Warnings. The police officer’s failure to read the Miranda Rights on tape can result in suppression of the videotape in the event of a drunk driving trial.
The videotape must document that the breathalyzer was conducted within three (3) hours of being pulled for driving under the influence or the breathalyzer results may be suppressed.
The breath site video must include the reading of Miranda and the entire breath test procedure including:
- the reading of the implied consent warning,
- checking the mouth,
- waiting 20 minutes,
- telling the defendant that the breathalyzer test will be videotape recorded, and
- informing the defendant that he/she can refuse the breathalyzer.
If the proceedings cannot be videotaped, the officer must complete a sworn affidavit certifying that it was physically impossible to videotape the 20-minute waiting period.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Columbia, South Carolina DUI Charges
If you face DUI charges in South Carolina, whether it is your first charge or felony DUI, you could feel alone and afraid. Just because you have received DUI charges does not automatically mean that you are guilty. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have helped people who face DUI charges since 1996. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us for help today. 803.252.4800