South Carolina v. Sawyer

The Court granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari to review an unpublished Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the circuit court's suppression of respondent Philip Sawyer's breath test results and video in a prosecution for driving under the influence (DUI). In 2007, respondent was taken to the Spartanburg County Jail following a traffic stop made by a certified Data Master operator. Respondent was placed in the "subject test area" which is a room that adjoins the Data Master room. A deputy retrieved some forms from the Data Master room and then appeared to read respondent his Miranda rights and the implied consent information. Both respondent and the deputy signed the forms. There were separate audio and video recording devices in both the subject test area and in the breathalyzer room. In this case, the audio device in the subject test area did not function. Respondent moved to suppress the evidence relating to the breath test site alleging the videotape did not meet the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-2953(A), which required that a person charged with DUI have his conduct at both the incident site and the breath test site videotaped. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a videotape from the breath test site that lacked the audio portion of the reading of Miranda rights and the informed consent law did not satisfy the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. 56-52953(A)(2) (2006). View "South Carolina v. Sawyer" on Justia Law