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Judge fined after crashes; Gillens reaches plea agreement on traffic charges
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Judge fined after crashes; Gillens reaches plea agreement on traffic charges

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A longtime Orangeburg County magistrate has entered into a negotiated plea agreement involving traffic charges in Orangeburg and Charleston counties. 

Jacob Gillens Sr., the 71-year-old magistrate who’s currently on interim suspension, pleaded guilty to driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration of .08 and driving too fast for conditions.

He was fined in the cases and lost two points on his driver’s license.

He entered the pleas on Aug. 28. Calhoun County Magistrate Jeffrey Bloom signed an order regarding the cases on Sept. 11.

On Jan. 31, Gillens was driving his 2016 Cadillac on U.S. Highway 301 when he “ran off the road to the left, drove into a culvert in the median and struck a truck head-on,” according to S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Tyler Tidwell.

The two occupants of the truck were injured and so was Gillens.

Gillens refused a blood alcohol test.

In that collision, Gillens was initially charged with first-offense driving under the influence.

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As part of the plea agreement, Gillens pleaded guilty to driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration of .08 instead and agreed to pay the maximum fine of $1,017.

According to the state’s laws, driving under the influence means that a person’s ability to operate a vehicle is impaired because that person has consumed alcohol, drugs or some substance.

Driving with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration means that a driver has alcohol in his or her system, but their driving may or may not be impaired.

Prior to the Jan. 31 collision, Gillens was involved in one on Sept. 28, 2017 in Charleston County.

Gillens was driving his Cadillac westbound on Interstate 26 in North Charleston when he ran off the road to the left, struck the median wall and then came across the interstate before side-swiping a 2017 Ford and finally ending up in a ditch, according to S.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Judd Jones.

In that incident, Gillens initially faced the charges of violating the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Act law and driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration of .08 but less than .10.

The driver of the Ford sued Gillens. The parties settled outside of court around May 20, 2020.

In Gillens’ plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the two charges if he pleaded guilty to driving too fast for conditions and paid a $232 fine, with two points off his driver’s license.

Gillens was first appointed magistrate for Orangeburg County in 1985. He serves as an eastern region magistrate.

Gillens’ attorney, Charlie Williams, declined comment on the cases.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.

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