DUI cases delayed in Horry County due to state computer problem

A state computer that stores evidence in 22 years worth of DUI cases is down and now some drunken driving hearings are being postponed.

The State Law Enforcement Division database, which contains suspects' breathalyzer tests, has been down since July 5 and won't be back online until next month.

Until then, neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers can access hundreds of thousands of tests results and videotapes.

In Horry County, prosecutors explained that they hope it doesn't take any longer than another few weeks before the server is back up and running.

Horry County Assistant Solicitor Manuela Clayton said this has already resulted in prosecutors having to delay 10 out of 100 DUI cases meant to be tried in August. But, she added, so far she's not concerned.

"We're fortunate, we have a term of court every month so if we don't get it in August, we'll try for September. If not September, we'll put it on October's and we'll just move it as quickly as we can," Clayton explained.

SLED officials said they suspect lightning hit a transformer, causing an electronic device in their generator system to fail. Officials say none of the data has been lost, but Clayton's still keeping her fingers crossed. "If for some reason they lose all those videos and all that data then it is going to affect a big chunk of our cases because that means there was a piece of evidence that we no longer have."

She added that they download DUI cases up to six months before they go to court so, as long as it doesn't take any longer than a few more weeks for the server to be restored, Horry County DUI courts shouldn't be too backed up.

Clayton's thankful this kind of thing doesn't happen too often. "This is the first time it's happened since I've been here. With storms and if it was lightning, I mean it's unpredictable, so we'll just work with it and go from there."

Although lawyers still don't have access to videotape evidence, Clayton said they can still access breathalizer slips that provide information on alcohol readings or if a suspect refused the test.