Over recent years, more law enforcement agencies in Southern Maryland have begun using body cams, feeling that police accountability provides a mutual benefit to the officers and the residents they serve. But what impact does a police body cam have on a DUI/DWI arrest?
What is a body cam?
Most body cams are small cameras that an officer clips onto his or her uniform that can capture, from an officer’s point of view, video and audio of activities including traffic stops, arrests, searches, and interrogations. Body cams can record continuously but most police departments keep the cameras off until they encounter a citizen.
What effect can a body cam have on DUI/DWI arrest?
Body cams can be either helpful or a hindrance in a DUI/DWI arrest. Often the only witnesses to the alleged DUI/DWI incident are the arrested driver and the police officer. A body cam provides a third, unbiased witness to the events. On the one hand, it may provide video evidence that the defendant is clearly guilty of the DUI charge. However, it can also help the defense because body cams prevent police officers from exaggerating the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
Part of the DUI defense attorney’s job is to make sure that the officer who made the arrest accurately reports what happened. If an officer has a lapse in memory, copy and pasted from other reports, or bent the truth, recorded footage can help show the flaws in the case.
For example if an officer states in his report that the driver was demonstrating impairment at the time of the traffic stop, body cam footage can show that when the officer approached the vehicle, the driver’s speech was clear and easily understood, the driver had no problem turning over his license and registration, the driver exited the car without difficulty, and waited patiently for further instructions from the officer. The body cam can also document a driver’s performance on a field sobriety test.
Footage from the body cam can also be an extremely useful tool in keeping an officer truthful on the witness stand if a case goes to trial. Cross-examination is a chance for the defense attorney to ask the officer questions about his version of events, his report, and what he testified to on the stand. Playing the video and having the officer view it can lead to more truthful answers to a defense attorney’s questions.
Contact an experienced DUI attorney.
If you were arrested for DUI or DWI in Southern Maryland, you may face very serious and very real consequences. A skilled Maryland defense attorney can assist you in combating these charges by reviewing body cam footage and other evidence. To schedule a free consultation with the experienced lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, contact us or call 866-444-6363.