After being arrested for DUI, some people ask me:
- “Was I videotaped by the police?”
- “Is that going to make me look bad?”
- “Because they have a video of me, does that mean we can’t win the case?
There are a few police departments that use cruiser dashcams during the police stop. Quite a few departments take video at the police station during the booking process.
But, in my experience, video taken during the arrest process absolutely tends to make cases easier to win. Most people are surprised by this, but it is absolutely true, and I’ll explain why.
Video evidence tends to make DUI cases better because an actual video of the night from the night of the arrest is an objective account of what happened. Compared to what the officer testifies to, the video often looks fairly harmless.
On the witness stand, the police officer read from his police report and will cite the reasons he decided you were drunk: unsteady on your feet, slurred speech (which you often can’t hear because the video rarely includes audio), glassy or bloodshot eyes (which you can’t tell from the video), and other observations.
“The Defendant Doesn’t Appear Drunk on the Video”
The police officer’s descriptions when he testifies typically paints a picture in the jury’s mind of a person so drunk he is barely able to function. But more often than not, the videotape just shows a person standing there calmly.
Unless the video shows you falling down and unable to hold yourself up, it is not going to look as bad as the officer described. And this fact will raise doubts about how correct the officer’s observations were.
Secondly, the video captures everything, including things that the police did not put into the police report or simply would not testify to.
I had a case a couple of years ago where my client was asked if he had any jewelry on and he mentioned having a nipple ring. When we obtained and watched the video, it showed that he was completely in control, and able to easily take off his shirt without any fumbling. His dexterity looked perfectly normal. He was calm, and even joking with the officers.
It also showed he looked ridiculous because he had big “man boobs” jiggling. That was something that made the case look silly to the jurors and we ended up winning that case.
It’s true that defendants often believe there are video cameras at the police station since there are often signs saying so. And certainly, virtually every police station has surveillance cameras in the front of the police station. But most of the time they are not used in the booking area or during the arrest process.
But if a video of your arrest exists, we absolutely want to get a copy of it, and hopefully, use it to your advantage in your case.
Call me now for a free consultation on your OUI charge if you have questions or concerns about any video recordings the police may have in your case.