South Carolina troopers have released dashboard camera footage of State Sen. Paul Campbell’s DUI arrest this past weekend.
The Highway Patrol footage released Wednesday shows the Goose Creek Republican repeatedly insist his wife was driving both before and after he failed a field sobriety test. The 71-year-old Campbell, who chairs the Senate Ethics Committee, has said he is not guilty of DUI and providing false information charges.
The footage begins with the trooper arriving at the crash site along Interstate 26 on the Berkeley-Charleston county border. The trooper briefly speaks with the other driver Michaela Caddin, who told him Campbell and his wife switched seats shortly after rear-ending her vehicle.. She said Campbell also approached her vehicle after the crash and asked if she wanted to move to another spot to settle any insurance issues and gave her his senator business card.
“I saw him get out of the front driver’s seat and swap with his wife,” Caddin tells the trooper. “Then he comes to me, to my window, to check on me. He hands me his business card. He’s a senator.”
The trooper then spoke to Campbell, who argued his wife had been driving and that they both stepped out of the car, but he only wanted to check on Caddin. After a second trooper arrived on the scene, both began questioning the Campbells separately. The separate questioning yields slightly contradicting stories: Mrs. Campbell said she got out to check damage on the car, while Sen. Campbell stated his wife did not leave the door.
“I don’t think (my wife) did any significant damage,” Campbell tells the trooper. “Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. But I jumped out of the car and said she should stay in the car. She opened it on her side and I got out and came around.”
The troopers then administer field sobriety tests. Vicki Campbell passed, but the video showed Sen. Campbell struggled to walk in a straight line and was not able to hold his foot in the air while counting. The trooper then arrested him.
While patting down Campbell, the trooper notes the car keys are in Campbell’s pocket. However, the senator later adds his car uses the automatic start feature and only requires a key be present inside the car even if he does not put it into the ignition. Troopers later learn his wife has another set of keys on her own.
Campbell was mostly respectful during the stop and after his arrest, although he continued to insist he was not driving and only got out of his car to check on Caddin. At one point while handcuffed in the patrol cruiser,, he complains the handcuffs hurt his wrist and that he will change the law. During the ensuing drive to the Charleston County Detention Center, Campbell and the trooper briefly discuss college football games which occurred earlier in the day Saturday and Campbell mentions Highway Patrol commander Col. Christopher Williamson is a “friend.”
“This may cost me my job,” Campbell said at one point during the drive. “You know that, I guess. But that’s okay. Whatever it takes.”
He was charged with DUI and providing false information. Vicki Campbell was also cited with giving false information, but was not arrested. South Carolina Radio Network does not normally name a surviving victim in traffic cases, but Caddin revealed her identity in a press conference earlier this week.
Campbell has represented Berkeley County in the state Senate since 2007. He serves as chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee. Since the charges are misdemeanors, he does not face automatic suspension from the chamber as he would if charged with a felony. The retired aluminum plant manager also currently serves as CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.