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State v. Walters

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

September 28, 2016

The State, Appellant,
v.
Steven Hoss Walters, Jr., Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2014-002770

          Heard September 8, 2016

         Appeal From York County Lee S. Alford, Circuit Court Judge

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General William M. Blitch, Jr., both of Columbia; and Solicitor Kevin Scott Brackett, of York, for Appellant.

          James W. Boyd, of James W. Boyd, Attorney, of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

          OPINION

          LOCKEMY, C.J.:

         The State appeals the circuit court's dismissal of its case against Steven Hoss Walters, Jr. for driving under the influence (DUI), second offense. The State argues the circuit court erred in finding (1) the video recording of the incident site failed to comply with the requirements of section 56-5-2953(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2015) and (2) section 56-5-2953(B) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2015) was not applicable. We reverse and remand.

          FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 13, 2014, Walters was arrested for DUI in York County. On that date, Trooper Mike McAdams, the arresting officer, administered a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. While his dashboard camera was recording, Trooper McAdams positioned Walters in front of his patrol car facing away from the camera and conducted the test. According to Trooper McAdams, Walters was turned away from the patrol car to prevent the flashing lights from causing a false positive on the HGN test.

         On December 16, 2014, this case proceeded to trial in the circuit court. During a pretrial hearing, the circuit court dismissed the case, finding the video recording did not comply with section 56-5-2953(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2015) because it did not fully show the administration of the HGN test. The court found because Walters was facing away from the camera, it could not determine whether Trooper McAdams and Walters were in the proper position or whether Trooper McAdams was moving his finger at the proper pace. The circuit court further held section 56-5-2953(B) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2015) did not apply because the video recording was not missing or malfunctioning. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only." State v. Baccus, 367 S.C. 41, 48, 625 S.E.2d 216, 220 (2006). Therefore, this court is bound by the trial court's factual findings unless the appellant can demonstrate that the trial court's conclusions either lack evidentiary support or are controlled by an error of law. State v. Laney, 367 S.C. 639, 643-44, 627 S.E.2d 726, 729 (2006).

         LAW/ANALYSIS

         I. Section 56-5-2953(A)

         The State argues the circuit court erred in dismissing its case against Walters because the video recording did not comply with section ...


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