How Important Is The Video Recording Of A Police Stop To The Defense Of A DUI Case?
There are a couple of reasons why video recordings are extremely important for the defense of a DUI case. If there is a discrepancy between what an officer wrote in the report and what is shown on the video, then this will indicate a lack of credibility on behalf of the officer. As a result, we may be able to get the case dismissed or the charges reduced. In some counties, the district attorney will choose not to include evidence that reveals an important discrepancy, and this will usually lead to a lesser charge or dismissal of the case.
Video footage is helpful in that it can provide details about what occurred. For example, if someone has been accused of erratic driving, but the video footage shows that another driver had cut them off right beforehand, then we may be able to show why it appeared as though the defendant was driving erratically. Video footage can also help us to identify witnesses who were not mentioned in the police report, as well as determine whether or not the officer properly admonished the defendant. Oftentimes, it will be shown that a defendant refused a chemical test (such as a blood draw) only because they were not properly admonished about the choice of test and the consequences of refusal.
DUI lawyers spend a lot of time reviewing video footage for details that can strengthen their case. However, sometimes video footage will show that the case is actually weaker than the DUI attorney suspected. Video footage may confirm what the client says, but it could confirm what the officer said. If video footage shows that a client was not as sober as they might have thought they were, then we can avoid steps such as filing motions or preparing the case for trial. For example, if a client tells us that they performed well on the field sobriety tests and were only arrested once they blew into the machine, we might review the video footage and see that they were actually stepping way off the line, counting improperly, or swaying during the field sobriety tests. Often, a client’s perception of how they performed on these tests is different than how they actually performed.
There are a few attorneys in the San Francisco Bay Area who handle DUI cases and don’t request video footage, records of the blood draw, calibration records (i.e. chromatogram records), the breath machine records, or other important forms of evidence. In addition, these attorneys will tell their clients that the district attorney will get mad if they make them work or ask them to provide the evidence. I find this infuriating because as attorneys, it is our job to help people and to find the right defense given a particular set of circumstances. A client may as well represent themselves before hiring a lawyer who won’t put in the effort to obtain discovery. Defending a DUI case takes time and there’s a reason some lawyers are very cheap and others are expensive. The more expensive attorneys are the ones who are actually going to do the work and ensure that their clients get the best possible outcome.
Several counties will reduce DUI charges for defendants who have immigration issues, which can be a great thing for those defendants. However, in order to make sure that charges are reduced in light of immigration issues, we need to build a case based on a thorough DUI investigation before getting something from the immigration attorney showing that the charge should be reduced.
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