Field Sobriety Tests Have Significant Weight In Determining Probable Cause In A DUI Case
Interviewer: How much weight do the field sobriety tests have in court?
Zach Peagler: It depends often times on who your lawyer is and how much your lawyer knows about DUI law, but they’re given significant weight in a probable cause analysis if they are administered properly and backed up by field notes from the police officer.
In the Last 10 years, Most Police Vehicles Have Been Equipped with Dashboard Cameras
Interviewer: Am I going to be videotaped during this whole process?
Zach Peagler: It depends on what jurisdiction you are in and now most police vehicles for the last 10 years or more have been equipped with dashboard cameras, but we’re seeing a trend where a lot of police departments are going away from the dashboard cams because, in my opinion, a lot of times they don’t show what the police officers want them to show and if tapes get misplaced or destroyed or taped over, it looks bad for the police department.
If the Police Officers Made a Tape but it’s Not Available for the Judge or the Jury to See, it Can Have a Bad Impact on the Veracity of the Officer’s Testimony
It may be 3, 4, 5, 6 months down the road before anyone requests a copy of the video tape or a dashboard cam tape and by that time the police department may have taped over that tape or misplaced it. Then it can look bad when they go to court and the police officer is saying this person fell down when they were trying to do the one leg stand or something like that and they don’t have a tape. Not just that they don’t have a tape but they made a tape that night but it’s no longer available for viewing. For a lot of juries or judges that could create a reasonable doubt as to the veracity of the officers testimony. If there has been a tape in the past but we can no longer see it.
If the Police Department Had a Tape and Videotaped Over it or Lost it, then The Situation May be Beneficial for the DUI Defendant
Interviewer: It could be beneficial for the person if they are videotaped in that situation then?
Zach Peagler: I think probably the most beneficial scenario for a person often times is that there was a tape but the police department has lost it or taped over it. If the police cruiser does not have a dash cam, then there is going to be no reason for the jury to be suspicious of the police officers testimony other than if it’s pointed out in cross examination. He didn’t know what he was doing when administering the test or something of that nature but no dash cam at all probably benefits the police and then a dash cam for the defendant is probably a double edged sword and then it depends on really whether that person was intoxicated or not and if they appear to be.
A Video Can Help a Defendant Realize Whether They’ve Performed Well or Poorly in a Field Sobriety Test
In most of the cases where I’m going to be seriously trying to defend a DUI charge, I would rather there be a dash cam because at least I know one way or the other what we’re dealing with and clients that come to us sometimes don’t have a great recollection of what’s happened because they were nervous, it’s a highly stressful situation and so they may remember thinking that they did very well on the field sobriety test and then if we can get a dash cam, sometimes it either validates what they’re saying or it helps them realize that their case is going to be harder to defend.
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