A lot of times, when the police come up on the scene of an accident or they pull someone over for a DUI, they will have what's called a dash camera in their vehicle. The video usually kicks on when they start to follow a particular person.
Sometimes, this video helps the defense and sometimes it can hurt the defense. Unfortunately, it's not available in every case and that dash camera video also doesn't always capture everything.
For example, if you want to see your client's field sobriety test, a lot of times, they don't point the camera in the right direction.
It doesn't capture everything but it's certainly something that we try to get in the appropriate cases, if it might help us. The only other way to get a recording of the encounter is if the police happen to have body camera video.
The only other form of recording the prosecution or police could try to get is a confession from the suspect where they Mirandize them and then audio record that encounter. They don't do that every time but that's certainly an option for the police.
We usually try to get any type of at-the-scene video evidence in DUI cases, which is the dash camera video or the body camera video.
Are Recordings Admissible As Evidence In A DUI Case?
Usually, if the audio and or video recording captured any part of the incident, the prosecutors can try to get that recording and it usually would be admissible.
One area where it wouldn't be admissible is if the police had the defendant in custody after a DUI arrest.
Then they started asking direct questions that incriminated the person, and they didn't read them their Miranda rights. Then, the defense could argue that the video should not be admissible.
A lot of times, the defense is trying to get the video in because it shows that the person wasn't drunk or wasn't driving erratically.
Video evidence and audio evidence is all fair play for both the defense and the prosecution in a DUI case. Sometimes, I want to sit down with my client to talk to her before we attempt to get any type of video evidence.
It's my experience that in DUI cases, the prosecutors usually don't get the body camera video or the dash camera video.
They usually feel confident with their case based on the police's observation and the police report.
Usually, it is the defense that is requesting these things but, obviously, you don't want to request something that is going to end up hurting your case.
I've seen scenarios where less experienced DUI defense attorneys have requested video in a DUI case that ended up showing things that make the case more serious from their perspective. You have to be careful what you ask for.
Importance Of Video Recording Of A Police Stop
When the police pull you over, they're going to start evaluating you and deciding whether or not you're driving under the influence of alcohol (CALCRIM 2110) and whether or not you're safe to drive, or if they should arrest you.
If they've already arrested you, they have made the inclusionary thought process that you're driving under the influence of alcohol. What I'm looking for, as your DUI attorney, in a video, is whether or not you really look unsafe.
Whether your gait is steady as you walk, and whether or not you're performing successfully on the field sobriety tests. If they capture you driving, I want to see if your driving looks fine or if you were swerving.
The second thing I'm looking at is whether we can find video evidence that contradicts any of the things that are being claimed in the police report.
This can be used to impeach and attack their credibility.
Finding inconsistencies between what's in the video and what the police have put in their report can be huge in a DUI case.
We're able to point this out to the prosecutor and try to resolve the case to get a better deal and maybe a lesser charge, depending on what the circumstances are.
Visiting The Scene Of The DUI Stop
We don't visit the scene often in DUI cases, unless it's a scenario where the setup of the scene is important in order to try to defend the case.
For example, if the police had the person do the heel to toe test and then turn and come back and they were claiming that the person was stumbling.
If they had him perform the test in an area where there is a slope, we'd want to make the argument that there is no way he could successfully complete that test.
What is important to understand about DUI cases is that not every technique is going to yield the same result when it come to a defense standpoint.
Some DUI attorneys give the same advice to everyone with a DUI charge and that is not effective.
First, we have to lay out all the facts of your case and then, we can make a decision whether or not to visit the scene. In my experience, visiting a DUI scene is usually not going to yield the results that we're looking for.
However, I always keep an open mind and if we can make a determination that broadening the team would benefit us somehow, then I can send my investigator out to take photographs and write up a report.
Sharing Personal Medical History With Your Attorney
A lot of times, medical history can play a role in whether or not we're getting an accurate breath or blood reading in a DUI case.
If you're taking certain types of medication or you have certain types of medical issues, it may impact what your blood alcohol level was at the time of driving.
You also have to realize that if you were taking prescribed medication and you're trying to use that as an excuse for why you were driving the way you were, that prescription medication can also be used to prosecute you for a DUI.
I've had people take certain prescription medication and not be able to safely drive, and get a DUI because they got into an accident.
If you're taking prescription medication and drinking alcohol, that's not going to be a good defense for you.
You obviously shouldn't drive a motor vehicle, if you're taking prescription medications of any kind and drinking alcohol at the same time.
That can negatively impact whether or not you're safe to drive a motor vehicle. It is important that we look at everything in the privacy of my office and assess it all.
We can't be saying that you're mixing alcohol with prescribed medication to try to use that as a defense because it will make you look worse.
It is incredibly important that we sit down and you reveal any medical condition that you have, so that an attorney with 25 years of experience can assess whether or not we have a circumstance where we can use that as a defense in your case or if it is something that is going to hurt your case.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0963.