Evaluating Body Cam Footage to Develop DUI Defense Strategy
Almost every LAPD officer is now equipped with a body cam for those who do not know. That means when they're out in the field. They're doing these DUI investigations — whether it be the field sobriety tests, pulling the driver over or asking the driver questions, checking their eyes, watching how they walk, seeing how they drive — these are all things that before the body cam, we had to rely on whatever the police said.
Often, it was the police's word against the individual's word. With this body cam, we can often see the evidence ourselves, evaluate it, and get a good feel for whether this is the type of case we want to trial.
Whether or not there's anything captured on the body cam — that either on the good refutes what the police are saying, or on the bad shows that the person is intoxicated to a level they cannot safely operate a motor vehicle.
The only bad thing about the body cam that I see is that the police have control over it a lot of times. In other words, they can turn it off and on. With that ability, they can catch people in the wrong position and hide evidence to a degree because they don't have it turned on when it shows the person's not doing anything wrong.
Another thing that the body cam can catch is if it's turned on is because the police are not telling the complete truth about what happened during the stop, during the arrest, and during the field sobriety tests.
So, these body cams can be precious evidence for both sides. I see prosecutors use them all the time. If they watch the person do the field sobriety tests on the body cam, know how the person is walking, talking, and whether their speech is slurred like the police typically claim, they can be precious to the prosecutors. Of course, it can be unique to the defendant.
Another thing besides body cam that is available in a lot of the CHP units is a video in the car. Again, the car, of course, has to be pointed in the right direction to capture the person doing the field sobriety test or capture the pullover.
Unlawful Police Stop
Some of the biggest defense arguments have to do with the pullover. The police are claiming somebody's doing twenty miles over the speed limit, and they pull them over, and then you get the dashcam video, and it shows they're not going twenty miles over the speed limit, and they're driving with the flow of traffic.
That would certainly be a good argument that it's an illegal pull over. So, what they call the MVAR — the video in the police vehicles — could also be a precious tool in defending a DUI case in Los Angeles.
Finally, people's video cameras — either the public, whether they be witnesses or people who are friends of the defendant — they videotape a lot of times to show how police are conducting things — how the person was acting, walking, talking when it came to the DUI arrest, and that's crucial to get those videos as well.
Often, the police don't know about those videos, so they'll say things in the report, and then you get the video, and you can completely contradict what the police are claiming.
This hurts their credibility in a DUI case and can be used to either get the case dismissed, mitigate it to a lesser crime or to fight the case at trial and get a good result because you're able to show that if the police lied about this, they're lying about other crucial facts related to the case and the DUI arrest. So, video evidence is a weapon that can defend a DUI case in Los Angeles.