S.C. Supreme Court Denies Michael Hilton Appeal

By Paul Gable

The S.C. Supreme Court has denied an appeal by former Myrtle Beach restaurant owner Michael Hilton to throw out results from a Breathalyzer test related to a felony DUI involving death charge.

Hilton was charged with felony DUI during the May 2008 Harley Davidson Bike Rally when he failed to yield the right of way and turned in the path of a bike driven by Angelo Gonzalez. Gonzalez died from injuries suffered during the wreck and his passenger, Suzie Reader, remains disabled from injuries suffered in the accident.

In 2009, the General Assembly changed the DUI law to require the test to be administered within two hours of an accident. Lawyers for Hilton tried to use this change in state law to get the Breathalyzer evidence thrown out. They were successful at the district court level, but lost at both the appeals and Supreme Court levels.

As a relative of Gonzalez texted after learning of the decision, “Finally some good news came our way. The Supreme Court denied Michael Hilton’s appeal on the Breathalyzer test. Six long years and finally something swung our way!”

The accident reportedly spurred the ‘Take Back May’ movement. According to several sources, the attitude among the country club set was, ‘If they (bikers) weren’t here, this would never have happened.’

No consideration was given to Hilton driving seriously impaired while Gonzalez was operating his motorcycle completely within the law.

The Take Back May movement led to Myrtle Beach’s one cent tourism sales tax, which led to the Coastal Kickback political contributions.

It will now be interesting to see this case go to trial. Gonzalez’ family and friends have been waiting for six long years to have their day in court. They have not forgotten how the so-called friendly, family beach really presents itself to outsiders.

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