Crime & Courts

South Carolina Magistrate Arrested For DUI On Railroad Tracks

“The suspect could barely stand up without assistance.”

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A part-time magistrate judge has been criminally charged after he was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while immobilized on a railroad track in Columbia, South Carolina.

On January 27, 2024, Kershaw County magistrate Darrell J. Drakeford was allegedly intoxicated when approached by an officer with the Columbia Police Department (CPD). The encounter took place while his vehicle was “disabled” over a high-traffic rail line at approximately 1:15 a.m. EST.

“The reporting officer contacted [Drakeford], who was sitting in the driver’s seat with the vehicle running,” wrote CPD officer Richard Johnson Jr. “The suspect had slurred speech, and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage was emitting from the suspect’s person.”

According to CPD, Drakeford was incapable of standing without assistance and refused a field sobriety test on South Assembly Street. He was subsequently transported to CPD Headquarters where he then refused a DataMaster breathalyzer.

The magistrate was thereafter booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and later released on a $1,017 personal recognizance (PR) bond set by fellow magistrate Gail Jabber.

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KNOW YOUR JUDGE …

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A Limestone University graduate, Drakeford “joined” the Kershaw County Magistrate Court in 2005. His nomination was supported by former S.C. state senator Vincent Sheheen and approved by former S.C. governor Mark Sanford.

To recap: South Carolina is one of only two states in America where lawmakers elect their judges. As reported over and over and over again, this process is notoriously corrupt and continuously yielding of unsatisfactory resultswith the exception of Drakeford?

“I’ve always found him to be an outstanding judge,” said Brett Perry, a careered criminal defense attorney in Camden. “I never felt like he set an excessively high bond on anyone. I never felt like he set an excessively low bond on anyone.”

Perry furthermore added that Drakeford was exercising his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by refusing CPDs breathalyzer — a bittersweet “freedom” seeing as it results in the automatic revocation of ones license for a period of six months for a first offense.

As for Drakeford’s judgeship? It appears as though the magistrate is on administrative leave pending the disposition of his criminal charge, according to sources within the Kershaw County Courthouse. We are still awaiting official word on his status from the state’s judicial branch.

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“He does not hold any court. He just sets bonds,” continued Perry. “He’s very measured in the way he approaches things … I’ve got no complaints with his services as a magistrate to Kershaw County. None whatsoever.”

In addition to his magisterial duties, Drakeford works as a senior auditor for the S.C. Office of the Inspector General (SCOIG), an “independent and objective” agency responsible for investigating fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct and mismanagement within state government. 

Come December 4, 2023, Drakeford joined the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR), a government agency responsible for administering the revenue and regulatory laws of the state while increasing tax and regulatory compliance — among other publicized goals.

Which reminds us …

Earlier this week, FITSNews reported on SCDORs active investigation into Camden’s longtime director of finance, Debra Ann Courtney — accused of evading thousands of dollars in state taxes while underreporting millions in liquor sales at Gadgets of Lugoff.

Fear not, though, as her ongoing administrative leave was confirmed by Camden city manager Jonathan Rorie, who moreover told FITSNews that his municipality would “not comment regarding any of her personal activities.”

Little did we expect to report on yet another “Camdenite” in two days time — better yet, one employed by the same agency accusing Courtney of evading $238,384 in state taxes while underreporting in excess of $2.4 million in liquor sales between 2019 and 2022 respectively.

As with anyone accused of committing a crime, Drakeford (and Courtney) are considered innocent until proven guilty — or until such time they enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement related to their charges.

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If you know of similar incidents that deserve investigative scrutiny, please reach out to this media outlet. We’re not only committed to exposing nefarious activity — but steadfast on holding our publicly funded servants accountable.

UPDATE |  Within weeks of publishing, Darrell J. Drakeford retained council from state representative Seth Rose, requested a trial by jury and resumed his judgeship in Kershaw County.

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THE INCIDENT REPORT …

(City of Columbia Police Department)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Andrew Fancher (Travis Bell)

Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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4 comments

Jeff Mattox Top fan February 9, 2024 at 8:02 pm

When you are part of the guards of the administrative state you must remember that state can and will bite you in the ass. We are all slaves on the great plantation and while we are all equal only a few are more equal than others.

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VERITAS Top fan February 11, 2024 at 7:14 pm

Up here in the North, refusal to do breathalyzer is ONE YEAR SUSPENSION. WTF is the matter with you South Carolinians. Guess you don’t mind drunks driving on the same roads as you, your children or grandchildren. This guy needs to be set as an example of intolerance of drunk drivers, and EVERY drunk driver is potentialky fatal. Start somewhere . . . and do it NOW.

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 12, 2024 at 12:08 pm

Never thought I would agree with you on anything, Veritas; but I do only in part.
Your approach is entirely punitive and not preventive enough.
You think a one-year suspension versus only six-month suspension is the ultimate solution?
What happens after your golden year is the root cause of the problem is not addressed?
And NO, no, no, no. I NEVER talk about poverty and blah, blah, blah, specially when it comes to substance abuse, which is an equal-opportunity killer.
What I talk about is people, YES, comme moi, knowing the REAL joys of life which you could not even pay me to drink or use drugs because my addictions are to things you can never do too much of, such as helping others and listening to talented pianists play Chopin and talented violinists play Mendelshon.
Peace!

Reply
DU I Have to Guess? February 14, 2024 at 8:50 am

So, what, he drops $10k in lawyer fees and goes back to doing this all over again?

Reply

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