South Carolina Court of Appeals Holds No "Criminal Intent" Required in DUI/Drunk Driving Cases


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. 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.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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