Technology advances have made recording a DUI suspected driver’s performance on the Field Sobriety Tests that police officers rely upon to decide whether to arrest someone easier and more cost effective. These tapes are often the best evidence to persuade a jury that the DUI suspect was or more importantly, was not DUI.
What happens if you performed great on these exercises, you saw the officer has a dash cam in his car, and yet there is no videotape that would prove you were not impaired? This is not a simple answer.
Florida does not have a one size fits all requirement that each police officer must have and use a video recording device when a suspected DUI driver performs the Field Sobriety screening exercises.
First of all, there is no law that mandates a police officer videotape a DUI suspect’s Field Sobriety performance.
Each police department, whether Florida Highway Patrol, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, or one of the many municipality police departments in Pinellas County, has the autonomy to set their own policy of whether to tape Field Sobriety performance or not.
If an officer violates his department’s policy by not using his dash camera to record your Field Sobriety Performance, this does not automatically mean your case will be dismissed. One of the important facts that need to be known is: Why the officer did not use any available equipment.
The best way to find this out is to ask the officer under oath. Since most DUI’s are misdemeanors, and there are no depositions of officers allowed without court permission; how can this question be answered? By hiring a Tampa DUI Attorney within the first 10 days of your DUI arrest. This is because you only have 10 days to file a Formal Review of your Driver’s License Suspension with the DHSMV. At this Formal Review we will have an opportunity to get the full report as well as determine if there was a video, and if one doesn’t exist, we can ask the officer under oath why not.
Getting the answer at this setting is even more important considering that there is no prosecutor present during this hearing, and the officer is more likely to be candid regarding any mistakes that he may have made.
So if you have a pending DUI contact one of the Tampa DUI Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates at 813-281-2897 for your Free Consultation. Every day counts, so don’t delay?
But what if the officer actually did film your Field Sobriety Test performance, but through some unexplained error, the video either wasn’t transferred to a disk properly or the disk was even lost. This doesn’t automatically mean the prosecutor will drop your DUI since there are many factors involved including what did happen to the tape, and was it intentionally destroyed.
This much is clear, once an officer gathers or creates evidence, and that evidence is lost/destroyed or otherwise unavailable, this lost evidence is a feature in a pending DUI charge that is not easy for a prosecutor to ignore. In fact, it will make the prosecutor’s case against you much more complicated, and it creates another issue that can be used in defending you from a DUI charge.
In order to get a DUI charge dropped due to a lost videotape or other evidence, the lost evidence must not only be material but also exculpatory. In other words would this evidence reasonably change the outcome of the case, and is there another method of producing comparable evidence.
In cases in which there is a high breath test result, and there are numerous witnesses who are prepared to testify the that suspected DUI driver could barely stand, a lost videotape probably wouldn’t affect the outcome of the case, and the charge likely will not be automatically dismissed.
But if there is no breath test, and only one officer involved, this case becomes the officer’s word as the only evidence, and as a result, the lost videotape could be characterized as crucial to contradict the testimony of the officer. The relevance of the circumstances of this lost videotape can become even more compelling if this officer has a history of losing videotapes.
There have even been officers who kept the videotapes in the trunk of their cars rather than the evidence department of the police agency. In cases that we can prove that the officer either intentionally destroyed the videotape, or are so careless that they continue to lose or destroy the videotapes, our attorneys have been more successful in using the intentional or negligent actions of a police officer to allow the client to keep a DUI off of their driving record.So call today for your Free Consultation with one of the experienced DUI Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates at 813-281-2897 so that we can review the circumstances of your pending DUI. For all of our client’s we gather all available evidence, and if there is any evidence missing, lost or destroyed; we will aggressively use this lack of evidence to help protect your reputation, livelihood and your freedom.