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Computer server containing South Carolina DUI evidence down

Drunk driving charges could not only result in a criminal record but also mar a person's reputation for years to come. But for some of those in South Carolina facing DUI charges, their chance to maintain their innocence in court is being put on hold.

A statewide server holding Breathalyzer test information and DUI arrest recordings going back to 1991 has been down since July 5, delaying the processing of any cases relying on that evidence. The server is one of several severs, known as SLED, that were shut down after their backup battery systems were reportedly struck by lightening.

Although the other servers became operational within hours of the incident, the one containing the Breathalyzer and DUI recordings may not be operational until August 9. The server contains hundreds of thousands of DUI files. Per state law, these files need to be accessible to defense attorneys in preparing their cases. It is believed that none of these files were lost as a result of the incident.

Breathalyzers are widely used by police to determine a driver's blood alcohol content level following an accident or a traffic stop. However, the accuracy of these tests may not match that of a blood test. In fact, the BAC levels indicated by a Breathalyzer test could differ by as much as 15 percent from the driver's actual BAC level as measured through a blood test. A BAC reading could also be flawed if the Breathalyzer was not properly calibrated. Because of this, it is possible to challenge the results of a Breathalyzer test in court, but in order to do so, a defense attorney needs to examine all of the available evidence. Hopefully, the defense attorneys who are waiting on this server to be prepared will soon have access to the information that they need to defend their clients.

Authorities in South Carolina will aggressively prosecute drunk driving cases. It is important that defense attorneys have all the resources and evidence at their disposal in order to put together the best possible case in favor of their clients.

Source: wbtw.com, "DUI cases in SC on hold because SLED computer is down," Robert Kittle, July 24, 2013

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