DUI cases will be prosecuted faster–over the holidays. A federal grant of 1.2 million dollars can put a prosecutor in magistrates court in ALL judicial circuits of the state.
8th Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace–prosecutes cases in Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties.
In the medium-sized and small circuits, we don’t have the funding to prosecute anything in magistrates court, so we didn’t go there at all. A few years ago, the legislature recognized the importance of having DUIs prosecuted in magistrates court by prosecutors. And so we got funding specifically for DUI prosecutions, and that lasted for two years. Well with the budget cuts, that money just disappeared.
State Public Safety Director Mark Keel secured the federal funds to enable swifter DUI prosecutions again. Solicitor Peace says it will help the rural areas:
When you have somebody and that’s their mission to prosecute cases, they can focus on that, and as a result, you get convictions and you get cases moving through the system quicker.
This stepped-up DUI prosecution adds to the the Sober or Slammer enforcement that will bring more cases to court. Solicitor Jerry Peace of the 8th Circuit:
What happened: a tremendous backlog was created in DUI cases. And the 8th Circuit is a good example–we had cases 6, 7, 8 years old. And when you have somebody whose job–okay, Mr. Prosecutor, you go into magistrates court, and you get this DUI situation straight–that’s what they’re consentrating on. And so as a result, you get these cases moved, you get the backlog down to where it’s a manageable backlog.
The state Highway Patrol has seen a 72 percent increase in DUI arrests since 2006.