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A South Carolina legislator acknowledged last week that he faces a drunken driving (DUI) charge from a stop along Interstate 77 in South Carolina last October. Rep. Bakari Sellers told The Associated Press that a sheriff's deputy stopped him in Chester County, SC after the South Carolina-Georgia football game in Columbia. He said he was headed to Charlotte, N.C., after the Oct. 6 night game "to spend time with my family and go to church the next day."
"I'm not hiding from anything. I'm not running from anything," said Sellers, a 28-year-old rising Democratic star who's been featured in Time's "40 under 40" list of politicians and interviewed on national TV news shows. Sellers, elected in November to his fourth term, said he's going through the process like anyone else charged with a first-offense DUI.
"I was booked like anybody else," he said. "The officers were cordial. I believe and hope I was cordial and respectful. I understood they had to do their job. I'm not running from that fact."
He said he did not submit to a breath test, which results in an automatic license suspension. He paid a $997 cash bond, according to court records. He said he had a temporary license that allowed him to drive until his license was fully reinstated last month. He has requested a jury trial.
Sellers' comments came after WIS-TV promoted a segment to be broadcast Thursday on a legislator who broke the law. The segment blurs the subject's image. "Yes, it's me," he acknowledged, though he added he hasn't seen the video.
The stamped date on the police video shows December 2011. But Sellers said the date is wrong, and he has no criminal record. "I've had traffic tickets," Sellers said. His license has been temporarily suspended in the past for not paying the tickets, he said, but then he quickly paid.
Sellers, a 2005 graduate of Morehouse College, was still in law school when he first won office at age 22. He graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School in 2008. Sellers referred other questions about his DUI case to his DUI defense attorney.
"This has not affected my ability to legislate one bit," Sellers said. "I've been railing against injustices, and I'll continue to do so."