Dash cam video released of Atlantic Beach mayor's arrest

Retha Pierce

The mayor of Atlantic Beach was arrested again on a charge of Driving Under the Influence.

Conway police got a call about a reckless driver Sunday night. Retha Pierce Sturdivant, who goes by Retha Pierce, blew a 0.00 on the breathalyzer.

In her purse officers found three pill bottles containing the muscle relaxer Flexeril, and pain relievers Toradol and Percocet.

She refused to give a urine sample because police would not let her keep half of the sample for herself. "You're not going to take a urine test, and I think you're trying to set me up."

When we asked if she was under the influence of the drugs found in her purse, she said, "Noooooo. I was not under the influence of prescription drugs."

15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree says proving someone is under the influence of prescription drugs without a urine sample is the same as proving someone is drunk when they choose not to blow. "Presumably we have evidence of bad driving. We have evidence of slurred speech or some sort of conduct, inability to do field sobriety test things like that that. Show they're having difficulty in their physical capabilities and their mental capabilities."

Pierce was arrested more than three years ago for DUI. Those charges were dropped last year, but she's still on probation from that incident for resisting arrest.

As Pierce left Conway Municipal Court Monday morning, she claimed the charge against her by Conway police was false. "Horry County will forever stay on Retha Pierce of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina," she said as she was loaded back into a police cruiser to return to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

About an hour later, she was released on a personal recognizance bond. She again maintained her innocence as she left the jail. "That's wrong for you to go out and arrest people wrongly when you know they are not guilty of things. Simply because you're trying to be involved in politics. This is all about politics," she said.

Late Monday afternoon, Conway police released the dash cam video of Pierce's arrest. In the video, Pierce is heard asking to use her cane several times during the field sobriety test. The officer told her no.

When the officer asked Pierce, 62, to stand on one foot, she replied that she could not because of back issues.

Rob Godfrey, the spokesman for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's office said the governor is aware of Pierce's arrest. Godfrey said if the solicitor takes further action, the governor is "prepared to respond quickly."

That means Pierce will likely remain mayor, unless she is indicted.

Pierce was voted out of office in November of 2011, but the election was contested. The town has yet to set a date for the new election because of an ongoing dispute with Horry County over a voting machine used in the election.