SC man charged with 6 DUIs in a year

Warren Brooks (Source: WYFF)
Warren Brooks (Source: WYFF)
GREENVILLE, SC (WYFF) - A Greenville County man was allowed to remain out on bond, after being charged with driving under the influence six times in the Upstate.

Prosecutors said all of the charges against Warren Brooks are considered "first-offense" because none of them have been resolved in court, and, therefore, there are no DUI convictions.

"This is one of the most egregious cases that we've seen in a long time," Walt Wilkins, 13th Circuit Solicitor, told WYFF. "Obviously, he has an issue with alcohol -- we believe he does -- that we've been trying to resolve through the court system."

All of the charges filed against Brooks are considered misdemeanor offenses, which are handled by magistrate court or municipalities.

The first DUI charge against Brooks happened in August 2010. Court documents said results of a breath test suggested he had high level of alcohol in his system. Brooks posted the bond, which was set at $4,000.

"Typically, no one is going to be incarcerated before the conviction has actually occurred," Wilkins said. "Everyone is always given a recognizance bond on a DUI-first (offense). That's just the standard."

The second upstate DUI charge against Brooks came on May 19. The Highway Patrol arrested Brooks and also charged him with having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Records show he posted a bond that was set at more than $2,000.

Less than a week later, Simpsonville Police charged Brooks with DUI. According to the incident report, an officer pulled him over for driving over the speed limit. The report stated that the officer "smelled a strong odor of alcoholic beverage" coming from Brooks. The officer also described Brooks as having "red and glassy" eyes and slurred speech. The report also indicated that Brooks struggled with the field sobriety tests. He posted a $1,000 bond.

Days later, Brooks was charged by Greenville Police with DUI, improper lane change and hit and run of an attended vehicle. The report stated that the driver's side mirror of Brooks' 2010 Chevy Camaro hit the passenger-side mirror of another vehicle, as he changed lanes on North Pleasantburg Drive. Again, Brooks posted a $1,000 bond on the DUI charge and $237 for each of the other offenses.

On June 12, the highway patrol filed a set of new charges against Brooks -- including DUI, driving under suspension and hit and run. The details of the arrest were not made available by the highway patrol.

Records show that Judge Michael O'Brien set a $25,000 bond for the DUI charge and $10,000 for the hit and run. Brooks was able to post the higher bond.

On July 2, the Greenville County Sheriff's Office filed another DUI charge against Brooks after a traffic stop near the intersection of Pelham and Boiling Springs roads. Few details were in the incident report.

Wilkins said arresting agencies usually inform the magistrates of the existing charges against a defendant.

"They're making bond decisions based on the information that they have at the time," Wilkins said.

Brooks was scheduled to go to trial in June of this year for the August 2010 charge, but, by that time, the solicitor's office had been made aware of the multiple DUI charges against him.

"We removed the case from the docket so we could better assess the exact situation for this defendant," Wilkins said. "It wasn't until we were notified through a general sessions charge, that we realized the gravity of the situation and a number of DUIs in such a short period of time. That's when we moved to revoke his bond."

Brooks hired Kim Varner, a prominent Greenville attorney, to represent him on all the charges.

Both Varner and Wilkins said they were also aware of an additional drunken driving charge filed in November 2010 against Brooks in Las Vegas.

"He is a very intelligent man. He has never been in trouble before all of this," Varner said. "His life just spiraled out of control."

Court documents from a hearing on Aug. 5 stated that Brooks was being treated for bipolaR disorder.

At the same hearing, Judge Charles Simmons allowed Brooks to remain out on bond, as long as he doesn't consume alcohol and provides the solicitor's office with reports from his doctor.

Varner said his client no longer has a vehicle because relatives took it away.

"He is not a danger to the public," Varner said.

Wilkins said if Brooks is convicted of a first offense DUI charge, every subsequent DUI charge would be treated as subsequent offenses. That means each additional conviction would carry a stiffer penalty.

There are currently hundreds of un adjudicated DUI cases in the 13th Circuit.

"Keep in mind that we're the only circuit in the state that has prosecutors dedicated to magistrate court's prosecution of jury trials. We also have two lawyers -- one specifically for DUIs and one for DUIs and everything else," Wilkins said.

Wilkins said scheduling conflicts can often delay cases being brought to court, but the greatest hurdle is the law when it comes to DUI cases.

"There are many cases where we can spend a day -- or day and a half -- just on motions with defense attorneys on a case that ought to take two or three hours to try," Wilkins said. "We are continually being suppressed by judges.

Wilkins said those challenges include the requirement that video recordings of the arrest must show the full reading of the arresting officer reading the Miranda Rights, even though the law does not require that the rights be read immediately.

Wilkins said, many times, prosecutors are not allowed to rely on video recordings that show defendants struggling to stay upright during a field sobriety test if their full body -- head to toe -- is not always visible.

"It's becoming more and more difficult -- especially with the volume of cases we have in Greenville County -- to sustain convictions because the law creates substantial hardships and burdens to be successful in the courtroom," Wilkins said.

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