Heard June 4, 2014
Appeal From Orangeburg County. Appellate Case No. 2012-212931. Edgar W. Dickson, Circuit Court Judge.
Assistant Public Defender Mark Wise, of Orangeburg, for Appellant.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, both of Columbia, for Respondent.
CURETON, A.J. HUFF and THOMAS, JJ., concur.
[410 S.C. 36]
Daisy Mimms appeals a circuit court order dismissing an appeal of her conviction in magistrate court for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). Mimms contends the circuit court erred in finding the magistrate court did not err in concluding: (1) there is no criminal intent required for the crime of DUI; and (2) veering off a roadway on one occasion was sufficient to show impaired driving. We affirm.
On October 23, 2010, Trooper Jamie Burris, while responding to a dispatch call of a driver driving erratically, conducted a traffic stop of Mimms because her car fit the description from dispatch and he observed her drive off the roadway.
[410 S.C. 37] Burris " smelled an odor of alcohol" as he walked toward Mimms' car; therefore, he asked her to get out of the car. During the stop, Burris told Mimms, " You [were] weaving all over the roadway." Burris administered three parts of the Horizontal-Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test to determine if Mimms was under the influence. Mimms was unable to keep her balance while performing the test and she did not successfully complete any portion of the HGN test. Based on Mimms' performance on the HGN test, Burris " did not feel comfortable" requiring Mimms to complete additional field sobriety tests. Additionally, based on her appearance and mannerisms, Burris determined Mimms was " clearly" under the influence of alcohol. Mimms admitted she consumed alcohol earlier that evening. Mimms also told Burris she had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Burris explained to Mimms the mixture of alcohol with her medication could have had a " synergy effect," impacting her level of intoxication.
Subsequently, the State charged Mimms with DUI, and she proceeded to a jury trial in magistrate court. After the State rested, Mimms moved for a directed verdict, arguing there was insufficient evidence of impaired driving because the evidence only showed she " ran off the road slightly." Further, Mimms maintained there was no evidence showing she weaved back and forth, drove into a ditch, or crossed the dotted line. As a second ground for a directed verdict, Mimms argued the State failed to prove an intentional act of violating the law. Mimms asserted the State was required to prove criminal intent and it failed to present such evidence. Mimms contended the evidence did not indicate she knew or had any reason to know she should not have drank a beer or there would be a " synergy effect" when she consumed the medication and alcohol. According to Mimms, there was no evidence she knew combining beer with her medication would impact her ability to drive. The magistrate denied the motion, finding there was sufficient evidence of impaired driving and the DUI statute does not require the State to prove criminal intent. Mimms presented no defense.
Prior to instructing the jury, the magistrate reviewed the parties' proposed jury charges and determined she " [would]
[410 S.C. 38] not instruct on criminal intent."  The jury convicted Mimms of DUI and the magistrate sentenced her to thirty days' imprisonment, suspended upon payment of a $997.00 fine. Mimms appealed to the circuit court, which dismissed her appeal with prejudice. This appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Section 18-7-170 of the South Carolina Code (2014) articulates the standard of review to be applied by the circuit court in an appeal of a magistrate's judgment:
Upon hearing the appeal the appellate court shall give judgment according to the justice of the case, without regard to technical errors and defects which do not affect the merits. In giving judgment the court may affirm or reverse the judgment of the court below, in whole ...