October 15, 2015.
from Spartanburg County. Brooks P. Goldsmith, Post-Conviction
Relief Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-001284.
General Alan Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy, Attorney
General Alicia A. Olive and Assistant Deputy, Attorney
General Suzanne H. White, all of Columbia, for Petitioner.
Rauch Wise, of Greenwood, for Respondent.
KITTREDGE. BEATTY, Acting Chief Justice, HEARN, J. and Acting
Justice Jean H. Toal, concur. PLEICONES, C.J., not
WRIT OF CERTIORARI
a post-conviction relief (PCR) matter. Respondent Nathaniel
Teamer was convicted of first-degree burglary, felony driving
under the influence (DUI) resulting in great bodily injury,
and failure to stop for a blue light (FSBL) resulting in
great bodily injury and sentenced to an aggregate term of
thirty years in prison. Following the court of appeals'
dismissal of Respondent's direct appeal, Respondent filed
a PCR application. The PCR court granted relief on four
grounds. We granted the State's petition for a writ of
certiorari to review the PCR court's decision. We reverse
and reinstate Respondent's convictions and sentences.
State first argues the PCR court erred in finding
Respondent's trial counsel ineffective for failing to
move for dismissal of Respondent's DUI charge.
Specifically, the State argues the PCR court erred in
determining the motion to dismiss likely would have been
successful because the PCR court misinterpreted section
56-5-2953 of the South Carolina Code. We agree.
law generally requires a person charged with DUI to have his
conduct at the incident site recorded on video, including his
performance of any field sobriety tests. S.C. Code Ann.
§ 56-5-2953(A) (Supp. 2015). However, subsection (B)
of the statute creates exceptions to this general
Failure by the arresting officer to produce the video
recording required by this section is not alone a ground for
dismissal of any charge made pursuant to [s]ection 56-5-2930,
56-5-2933, or 56-5-2945 if the arresting officer submits a
sworn affidavit certifying that the video recording equipment
at the time of the arrest or probable cause determination, or
video equipment at the breath test facility was in an
inoperable condition, stating which reasonable efforts have
been made to maintain the equipment in an operable condition,
and certifying that there was no other operable breath test
facility available in the county or, in the alternative,
submits a sworn affidavit certifying that it was physically
impossible to produce the video recording because the person
needed emergency medical treatment, or exigent circumstances
existed. In circumstances including, but not limited to,
road blocks, traffic accident investigations, and
citizens' arrests, where an arrest has been made and the
video recording equipment has not been activated by blue
lights, the failure by the arresting officer to produce the
video recordings required by this section is not alone a
ground for dismissal. However, as soon as video
recording is practicable in these circumstances, video
recording must begin and conform with the provisions of this
section. Nothing in this section prohibits the court from
considering any other valid reason for the failure to produce
the video recording based upon the totality of the
circumstances ; nor do the provisions of this section
prohibit the person from offering evidence relating to the
arresting law enforcement officer's failure to produce
the video recording.
Id. § 56-5-2953(B) (emphasis added).
before Respondent's trial, we held that failure to comply
with the video-recording requirement justifies dismissal of a
DUI charge, unless noncompliance is excused under subsection
(B) above. City of Rock Hill v. Suchenski, 374 S.C.
12, 17, 646 S.E.2d 879, 881 (2007) (holding dismissal of a
DUI charge " is an appropriate remedy provided by
[section] 56-5-2953 where a violation of subsection (A) is
not mitigated by subsection (B) exceptions" ).
present case, Respondent's FSBL and felony DUI charges
arose from a chain of events that began in the City of
Spartanburg in the early morning hours of February 3, 2006.
As Respondent drove out of the parking lot of a convenience
store around 1:00 a.m., he pulled out in front of Officer
Timothy St. Louis of the City of Spartanburg Department of
Public Safety. Officer St. Louis began following
Respondent's car because he noticed Respondent was
driving with his headlights off and because Respondent threw
a beer can out of his vehicle's window. Officer St. Louis
activated his recording camera and initiated his blue lights,
suspecting the driver may have been
intoxicated. However, Respondent did not stop and
continued to drive erratically. Officer St. Louis turned off
his lights and siren, pursuant to the city's " no
chase" policy, and put out a " be on the
lookout" (BOLO) alert to county and state officers that
included a description of Respondent's car and license
later, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Deputy David Evett
spotted a vehicle matching the description from the BOLO
traveling with its headlights off. When Deputy Evett pulled
close behind Respondent's vehicle to verify the license
plate number before initiating a traffic stop (by activating
his lights and siren), Respondent took off at a high rate of
speed. Deputy Evett activated his lights and siren and
pursued Respondent, but at a distance, as Respondent
continued to flee at a high rate of speed and without
Evett lost sight of Respondent's vehicle, but came in
sight of his vehicle just as the vehicle collided head-on
with another vehicle. After witnessing sparks from the
collision, Deputy Evett radioed for back-up and medical
assistance, then exited his patrol car and checked on both
drivers. The driver of the other vehicle was seriously
injured. Although Respondent was injured, he managed to crawl
through the passenger-side window and attempted to flee on
foot. Deputy Evett stopped ...