With Highway Patrol dash camera video shedding new light on the DUI arrest of S.C. Sen. Paul Campbell following a wreck on Interstate 26 Saturday, a Lowcountry attorney says the DUI charge alone isn't the greatest concern for the senator.
Ryan Schwartz is a criminal defense attorney for Charleston-based Thrower & Schwartz law firm.
With Campbell being chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Schwarz says he believes accusations that Campbell lied to Highway Patrol about who was driving the vehicle puts the senator's reputation and spot in state government at risk.
“His bigger issue is going to be the false information to police,” Schwarz said Wednesday, hours after video of Campbell undergoing sobriety tests and being arrested were made public. “A DUI, I don’t believe, would cause him to be removed from his position. But the false information to police would, so I think he’s got an issue there.”
Campbell has been adamant that he was not driving, but that his wife was -- something she corroborates.
Yet Michaela Caddin, who State Troopers say Sen. Campbell hit on I-26 Saturday, was equally adamant to Highway Patrol that Sen. Campbell was driving, and she watched the senator switch seats with his wife after the wreck.
Highway Patrol found probable cause to charge both Campbell and his wife with providing false information, and to charge the senator with drunken driving, although it's not made clear in the dash camera video or incident reports what exactly they found to be the most telling evidence.
The entire ordeal has Lowcountry mother Paula Schaffer worried.
“That mother was right when she said she could’ve been burying her child," Schaffer said, referencing remarks by Caddin's mother during Sen. Campbell's bond hearing Sunday. The senator was shown grinning as the woman made that comment.
Schaffer’s daughter, Sarah, would’ve been 25 this year, if not for a drunk driver. Schaffer said she’s happy that the Caddin family still has their daughter.
“I buried mine. I wasn’t as fortunate as she was and there is no rewind button,” Schaffer says.
Schaffer was rear ended by a drunk driver, her daughter was killed in the accident. She now volunteers with the group MADD—Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"Just don’t drink and drive,” Schaffer said Thursday.
Campbell is due back in court Jan. 8 after being released on bond Sunday morning.