In-Car Cameras: Do They Help or Hurt Your DUI Case?

Many police cars in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties are equipped with in-car cameras that make audio and/or video recordings of contact between police and citizens. If you are facing a DUI charge, this can potentially be great news for you. An effective Orlando, Kissimmee, or Longwood DUI attorney will be sure to gain access to and thoroughly examine the recording to see if there are ways you can use it to build a defense.

DUI charges are often based solely on an officer’s opinion of whether or not you were too intoxicated to drive, particularly when it comes to field sobriety tests. In-car cameras allow your Florida DUI attorney to see first-hand what happened and use this information in court if it helps your case. He or she will work to get a copy of the tape, have someone transcribe the tape, and then review it to make sure procedures were properly followed.

Here are a few things that an experienced DUI lawyer in Orange, Osceola, or Seminole county will know to look for:

Are you concerned for your safety? If you are on a major highway with high-speed traffic driving by, you may react differently than if you are on a quiet road. This can make you appear more off-kilter than usual.

Are you dressed appropriately? If you are dressed in a t-shirt on a snowy day, or bundled up on a scorching hot day, this can also affect your ability to take a field sobriety test.

Were procedures appropriately followed? The officer should be following Administrative Procedures of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. If not, the conclusions the officer drew from the test can be challenged.

Was the test done in a well-lit area that is dry and level? This is one of the procedures that must be followed in order to ensure that you are able to properly perform the tests.

Does the tape match the scoring given by the officer? There are specific instructions that the officer must follow in order to implement the test properly and that includes how he or she gives the score. It’s important to compare the officer’s notes with the tape.

Does the breath test clock match the video clock? Officers are required to observe you for 15 minutes prior to administering the breath test. Sometimes, upon careful review of the tape, it is discovered that the officer did not wait the required amount of time.

These are just a few of the things that your lawyer will be looking for when reviewing the police’s in-car camera. Sometimes it can make a big difference for your case if tried in court, but also during plea negotiations.

If the tape cannot be located, this can also be to your advantage, as your lawyer can argue that this constitutes a denial of due process if your lawyer can show bad faith on the part of the police. But even if that’s not the case, you may be able to argue that it is equivalent to the loss or destruction of a taped statement of a witness. Under the Jenks Act, you are entitled to this information. These arguments can also possibly be used if just the audio or video portions of the tape are damaged.

Similarly, jail cameras can also record your behavior after the arrest and be used to prove your level of intoxication. These can be used to support or disprove anything that was established with the in-car cameras, so it’s important that your DUI lawyer has access to these as well.

Of course, sometimes what the tape records can be very damaging to your case. If this is the case, it is still beneficial to have your DUI lawyer review the tape. He or she will be prepared if it comes up in court, and can still work to help you get a lesser punishment.

If you are facing DUI charges in Orange, Osceola, or Seminole county, you need an experienced Orlando, Longwood, or Kissimmee DUI lawyer on your side who knows how to get access to the tapes from police car cameras in order to build your defense. With so much at stake, you deserve the best defense possible.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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