In South Carolina, there is a voluminous backlog of DUI cases that Justice Jean Toal has ordered to be reduced. She has decreed that magistrate and municipal courts clear a backlog of thousands of alcohol related cases, and further require non-jury cases older than 60 days and jury cases older than 120 days to be closed.
This order has acted to clear roughly 11,000 cases; however, thousands of old cases remained with about 14,000 cases still awaiting a hearing. There are various factors that contribute to such congestion in these cases. One reason is that party-requested continuances have delayed cases going back for years.
One of the reasons for the back-log is that DUI Task Forces operate with a predominant goal of making more arrests for DUI. These measures have worked considerably in arresting those suspected of DUI; however, it has drastically contributed to the back-log. It has been reported that 42 percent of the cases that had been pending were dismissed, or simply dropped after Judge Toals order was made. This is a 12% increase from before the order.
In most “1st offense” DUI cases made by state troopers, the trooper is who represents the state as prosecutor. So, as the case progresses, the trooper will have to appear at the courthouse. If the case is delayed or continued, they will be forced to spend more time away from their patrol. Many feel that the troopers should not have to prosecute these cases because solicitors are generally more up to date on developments in the law, and understand legal procedure.
However, in order to have prosecutors handle these cases, the state has to put forth more resources to ensure that attorneys are the ones who are prosecuting the cases because they are more up to date on the developments in the law. Therefore, they are in a better position to access the best course of action in a given case. But, with the state budget where it stands, this is impossible.
Certain municipalities have taken a different approach by hiring private attorneys as part-time prosecutors. But, this approach only works to the level of the part-time prosecutor’s commitment, which may result in inefficiencies.
The complaints about the laws complexity also factor into this strata; especially with regard to the video recording law, and the subject of whether it is a matter of opinion that the driver is impaired. But, the proper use of these tools helps to make it easier to distinguish between a good case and a bad case.
If you or a loved one falls into this category; where you have been waiting for months to have your DUI prosecuted, and it is still sitting on the shelf, call the law offices of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP. We have taken on many South Carolina DUI cases, and understand the back-up the courts are faced with. For a consultation for an old or new DUI, or Felony DUI case, contact us at our Baxter Village office at 803-548-4444, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.