S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg) – a rising star in Palmetto politics – was busted for driving under the influence last fall following a University of South Carolina football game.
The 28-year-old lawmaker – widely regarded as one of the more substantive policy voices in Columbia, S.C. – failed three field sobriety tests after being pulled over in Chester County on October 7.
“I came up on him, he switched lanes in front of me, no turn signal, then drifted back; almost hit the back end of a tractor trailer,” the officer who busted Sellers recalled.
On a dash cam video of Sellers’ arrest, the young lawmaker acknowledged he had been drinking but repeatedly told the officer he was “tired.” Sellers later refused a breathalyzer exam – which guaranteed him a six-month suspension of his drivers’ license thanks to law signed by former Gov. Mark Sanford in 2008.
While some political operatives have pounced on Sellers’ arrest, members of both parties have defended him.
“I just want to remind people that no one is perfect, and that he who is without sin (should) cast the first stone,” GOP operative David Carter wrote on his Facebook page.
That’s probably a wise position to take. After all, based on our experience the blood alcohol level of the average Republican lawmaker in South Carolina rarely drops below the legal limit – even during the day (and then there are the GOP outliers).
Politically speaking we don’t expect Sellers’ DUI bust to amount to much. In fact compared to the May 2012 DUI arrest of S.C. Rep. Ted Vick (D-Chesterfield) it’s positively tame.
For those of you who missed that story, Vick pulled off the “Grand Slam” of traffic busts when we was caught speeding, driving under the influence and carrying an unauthorized firearm – all while traveling with a college coed (Vick is not only married, he’s one of those “family values” democrats).
Based on that standard, Sellers’ arrest is practically a non-event.