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Former public official faces felony DUI charges

South Carolina residents might have heard of Kelvin Washington either because he was a former Richland County Councilman in District 10 or because of his legal troubles. Washington reportedly hit the back of another vehicle on Feb. 27 while under the influence of alcohol, and the South Carolina Highway Patrol announced that his blood alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was .19 percent, which is more than double the legal limit.

The accident happened on Bluff Road near Martin Luther King Boulevard at around 7:45 p.m. when the vehicle in front of Washington slowed down, and two people in the other vehicle were injured. Both people went to Palmetto Health Richland, and one person suffered severe injuries while the other person had minor injuries. Washington refused to give a blood test after the accident, so state troopers had to get a warrant.

Washington faced scrutiny before the accident in January because he was charged with not reporting more than $400,000 in income. Gov. Nikki Haley removed Washington from his county council seat on March 17 by executive order and cited his tax charge as the reason, and he was also indicted for the felony DUI on the same day. After the crash, Washington was detained and later released on a $25,000 bond.

Those charged with a DUI could face penalties like fines, jail time or a suspended license, but one may also face consequences when refusing a breath test. It does not matter whether a person consumed alcohol or not when facing a license suspension for refusing to submit to a test because motorists give implied consent to breath testing. A person may find it advisable to consult with an attorney when faced with this type of situation in order to see whether the charge could be dropped if there was no probable cause to conduct the traffic stop.

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