Live 5 Investigates: Lightning strike may delay prosecution of DUI cases

Published: Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Authorities say Mother Nature may be to blame for a possible roadblock to the prosecution of DUI cases in South Carolina.

According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, a lightning strike earlier this month damaged the server that stores videos of DUI suspects taking breath tests, along with other data relating to the arrest.

The law requires the breath test to be videotaped. It's often used as evidence in court by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Defense lawyers and their clients use a special password to have access to the videos on SLED's website. But last week the website went down when the serve was damaged.

SLED says it may take three or four weeks to gradually restore hundreds of thousands of breath test videos dating back to 1991.

Charleston defense attorney Tim Kulp says if there's no access to the videos, we may see defense lawyers try to get their cases delayed or dismissed.

"I don't know how I can prepare for a case and hope to defend a client unless I can see the video, which is something the law requires that police make."

"We have lost no files, but it's just going to take time to bring all of the files back on line," said SLED spokesman Thom Berry.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says the issue may cause a delay in cases prosecuted by her office and no dismissals.

Wilson said it really shouldn't cause a delay because arrests from the past month are not up for trial yet.

According to the SLED website, the breath test videos should be restored on or before August 9.

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