Paul Campbell handcuffed dashcam

In a screenshot from a S.C. Highway Patrol dashcam video, State Sen. Paul Campbell is handcuffed Saturday night on Interstate 26 in Charleston County after being charged with drunken driving and lying to police.

COLUMBIA — State Sen. Paul Campbell insisted repeatedly while being arrested on drunken driving charges Saturday that he wasn't behind the wheel when his vehicle rear-ended another on Interstate 26, and he worried aloud on the way to jail that he may lose his job, according to dashcam video released Wednesday.

"This may cost me my job. You know that, I guess," he told the officer while sitting in the front seat, with his hands handcuffed behind his back. "But that's OK. Whatever it takes."

Campbell told the arresting officer that in addition to being a state senator, he's also chief executive of the Charleston airport.

"Of course, I may not be after this," he said of that $250,000-a-year job. 

Throughout the traffic stop, Campbell told the troopers to follow protocol and "do it right." He even said he's "happy to take a Breathalyzer test." He did tell the officer he didn't need to be in handcuffs, which he said were hurting him, and asked unsuccessfully for them to be loosened. 

"This is not fun. This kinda sucks," he said while waiting alone in the patrol car. "I'm going to change the law on this. ... I'm not DUI. I wasn't driving the car anyway."     

Campbell's attorney, Andy Savage, declined to comment Wednesday on a video he had not seen yet.  

Campbell, R-Goose Creek, and his wife, Vicki, were on their way home from a Charleston marina on Saturday night when "traffic just kinda stopped," she told two responding S.C. Highway Patrol troopers. She said she almost managed to stop, "but didn't quite."

Vicki Campbell can't explain why the woman driving the rear-ended vehicle, 21-year-old Michaela Caddin of Summerville, told troopers she watched the two swap seats after the wreck.

"Perhaps she was confused," Vicki Campbell said after passing field sobriety tests. 

Caddin "was absolutely adamant, positive he was driving," one trooper told the other. "I think we probably just need to go ahead and proceed with him."

The senator and his wife are both charged with giving false information to officers. 

Laughing at himself, Paul Campbell, a senator since 2007, acknowledged not doing well on his side-of-the-road sobriety tests. He wobbled while walking heel to toe, the video showed. He told the officer he's diabetic and one leg is slightly shorter than the other. 

At the jail, his blood-alcohol level registered .09 percent, just over the legal threshold of .08. He had told the trooper it would probably be half that.

Campbell said his wife asked to drive home from downtown Charleston because she knew he would be on the phone, celebrating his beloved Clemson Tigers' win. On the way to jail, the senator perked up whenever he and the trooper chatted about college football, sharing how he buys 45 Clemson football season tickets.

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The senator known for his smile and cheerful attitude even laughed in the patrol car about his destination.

"So I get to spend the night in jail? I'm OK with that," he said with a chuckle. 

Campbell continued to insist Caddin was mistaken.

"I jumped out of the car to make sure she was OK. That's what it's all about," he told the trooper. "Sir, I wasn't driving the car. ... I'm sorry to put you through this."

State law requires legislators to be suspended if they're indicted for a crime of "moral turpitude." State Attorney General Alan Wilson has said he believes lying to officers is such a crime, but Campbell hasn't been indicted on the charge. 

According to his traffic tickets, Campbell is set to appear in magistrate's court on Jan. 8, a day before the 2018 legislative session begins.

Assistant Columbia bureau chief

Adcox returned to The Post and Courier in October 2017 after 12 years covering the Statehouse for The Associated Press. She previously covered education for The P&C. She has also worked for The AP in Albany, N.Y., and for The Herald in Rock Hill.

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