COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV/AP) -- Hearings in drunken driving cases are being postponed as the State Law Enforcement Division works to restore a computer server containing 22 years' worth of evidence.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry says the database of suspects' Breathalyzer tests has been down since July 5 and won't be back online until next month. Berry says a transformer was struck by lightning interrupting power to headquarters and the agency's servers.
Meanwhile, neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys can access hundreds of thousands of test results and videotapes.
"It's yet to be determined, when they are going to be able to get this data, back I know that they are currently working on it and stating that they believe they will," said Charleston Attorney David Aylor.
Aylor defends multiple DUI cases every year. He says SLED has yet to tell attorneys' and solicitors' offices which cases are involved with the crashed server.
Aylor says right now, both sides will have to wait to move forward.
"It's very hard to prosecute the case when you lose what they call the discovery materials," said Aylor. "You may have the police report, but the way the law works in the state of South Carolina, the video is very crucial particularly related to the Breathalyzer video and things like that to make sure the procedures done correctly."
Berry insists none of the data has been lost. He estimates it should be running by Aug. 9.
"Ultimately, a month wouldn't be a major issue in regards to the delay. However at some point if this continues, I think you will start to see some judges putting out discovery orders demanding that evidence either be produced in a certain amount of time or the case actually be dismissed," said Aylor.
An assistant solicitor for York and Union counties called it not terribly inconvenient, with fewer than 20 cases in his circuit being pushed back.
Other SLED servers were back online after a couple of hours.