Authorities released dashboard camera footage Thursday that showed the sobriety check and subsequent arrest of South Carolina’s longest-serving solicitor.
11th Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers was arrested Monday night after Highway Patrol troopers found his car wrecked into a utility pole north of Lexington. Myers was not at the scene, but the Highway Patrol learned the vehicle was his and one trooper drove to the solicitor’s home nearby. The dashboard video (full video can be seen here) released Thursday shows what happened after the trooper pulled up in the home’s driveway.
Meyers greeted the trooper and said he had been injured, but did not need an ambulance. He said “some son of a b—” ran him off the road into the pole. He told the trooper he’d had one drink and had hitched a ride home with a stranger after the crash. He also mentioned he had told a friend who worked with the State Law Enforcement Division about the incident.
Eventually, trooper brought Myers out into his garage to conduct a sobriety test, informing the solicitor of his Miranda rights. “Why are you doing this?” Myers asked at one point. “To determine your level of intoxication,” the trooper responds.
Myers refused to do the portion of the test that required him to balance on one foot, saying he had recently undergone a knee operation and had “hit my leg” during the crash. He also would not do another portion requiring him to walk in a straight line, saying he “has trouble coming down the steps” due to his health problems.
The trooper asked him to count from 1 to 4, forwards and backwards. Myers slipped the second time through, saying “1-2-3-4, 4-2-3-1.” The trooper then asks Meyers to run through the alphabet. Both times the solicitor stops after the letter “p.” That is when the trooper tells Myers to put his arms behind his back and that he is under arrest. “Aw, man!” Myers shouts.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” the solicitor mutters. Several times he asks the trooper to undo the handcuffs, once so he can grab a towel to wipe his hands (which the trooper does for him) and another time to spit out his chewing tobacco. The trooper does free one hand so the solicitor can do so, but quickly puts the cuffs back on after he finishes.
He was later taken to Richland County’s detention center, where a breath test recorded a 0.09 blood alcohol content. The state limit is 0.08.
As solicitor, Myers is an elected official who acts as the chief prosecutor for criminal cases in the western Midlands region of Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick and Saluda counties. He has served in the position since 1977.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the Lexington County offices on Thursday and called on Myers to step down from his position. It was the solicitor’s third alcohol-related charge in little more than a decade.
“I gave him 24 hours (to resign),” said David Longstreet, a Columbia engineer who has become an anti-drunk driving activist since his daughter was killed in a 2012 collision with a repeat DUI offender. “He’s not responded. I then called (his secretary)… she had not heard from the solicitor. I don’t know. Where I work, if you haven’t called into you office in three days you’re probably going to lose your job.”
Myers previously pleaded guilty to drunken driving after a 2005 arrest in North Carolina and served one year of probation. He was cited again in 2012 after a trooper pulled him over and found an open container of scotch in the car. He paid a $155 fine for that incident.