Charleston County, SC- We hold police to a higher standard than we do ourselves because they have a sworn duty to protect and serve; at least that’s what their badges say. Unfortunately, police don’t always live up to that duty, as the DUI arrest of a South Carolina Sheriff shows.
Berkeley County Sheriff H. Wayne DeWitt, 63, is gaining national attention after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident Sunday night.
According to the Post and Courier, DeWitt was arrested Sunday evening following a collision with another vehicle while he was driving a truck owned by Berkeley County.
South Carolina Highway Patrol reported that DeWitt slammed into a vehicle Sunday evening around 5 p.m. The accident occurred at the intersection of Red Bank Road and Henry E. Brown Junior Boulevard in Berkeley County, but DeWitt didn’t stay on the scene, he fled.
The victim suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
When police finally caught up with the DeWitt, he submitted to a field sobriety tests which he failed, but refused to take a breathalyzer test. Based on field sobriety tests and evidence at the scene, DeWitt was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident.
It appears as though Sheriff DeWitt may get away with driving drunk because of a procedural issue During his bond hearing, Magistrate James Polk said DeWitt’s arrest may be illegal since South Carolina law only givers coroners the power to arrest a sheriff. The arresting state trooper explained in court they were unaware of that law.
DeWitt was released on bond Sunday. His first court appearance is scheduled for February and it is unclear at this time if his DUI attorney will attempt to have the sheriff’s charges dismissed.
If DeWitt is convicted, he could lose his job, but that is only if he is convicted. He also faces up to a year in jail for both charges. Since he refused the breath test, DeWitt’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for six months.
A DUI charge, especially one tied to a traffic accident, can result in incarceration, loss of driving privileges and costly fines. On top of those consequences, a DUI conviction will remain on a person’s record for years to come. This can present hurdles for individuals who plan on pursuing a career in law enforcement. It’s important that the people charged with ensuring our laws are obeyed also follow the law. An officer of the law risks their entire future when they drink and drive and they lose the respect of the citizens they vowed to protect.
Drunk drivers, regardless of their occupation can expect to be held accountable if they are caught driving under the influence. But they also have the right to fight their charge with a strong DUI attorney on their side. Upon examining the details of your arrest, your attorney will use their experience to help negate the consequences you’re facing.