Welcome back to another blog post from Johnson Law Office, P.C. Today we will talk about another myth about DUIs. I will use the term “DUI” because that is the most common name for drunk driving. The legal name for the crime of drunk driving is OVWI, which stands for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated. But let’s use the term DUI.
There are several popular misconceptions and myths concerning DUIs in Hamilton County. One such myth goes like this: “Unless the police have videos of every detail about my DUI, then my case has to get thrown out!” This idea comes from watching too much television and seeing too many movies. Ever since TV shows such as CSI and a host of others, the public has been fed a steady diet of false ideas, particularly the notion that old-fashioned testimonial evidence is obsolete.
Long before video evidence–whether dash-cam, body-cam, or in-car–became an established part of many DUI investigations, there was testimonial evidence of the police officer or officers on the scene, and that testimonial evidence continued to the police station or the hospital where either the certified breathalyzer test or blood draw sample was administered. Testimonial evidence continues to be a critical part of the case-in-chief of both the prosecutor and the defense.
But the general public has been conditioned for a generation to believe that the police always use videos when conducting a traffic stop or in the process of doing a DUI investigation. Rightly or wrongly, the public has come to expect the police to have video evidence of all traffic stops, encounters with the public, DUI investigations, and the like. Under that expectation, it is not long before the public harbors suspicion toward the police if an officer testifies that no video was taken, or that video was not available.
There are times when video is not used by the police for various reasons. So if a person is pulled over for a traffic stop, that stop might not be captured by video. Should that traffic stop turn into a DUI investigation, if there is no video available, then there is video evidence of that DUI investigation. In determining whether a case is trial-worthy, it is helpful to see a video for a number of reasons: the prosecutor and defense attorney are able to separately see the video and hear the conversation between the officer and the defendant. Chronologically, the driving infractions or lack thereof are clearly seen, thereby establishing whether there was a valid traffic stop in the first place. From that point forward, the entire DUI investigation can be seen on the video. But if no video is available, then the DUI investigation conducted by the police will consist of testimonial evidence and not video evidence. Depositions and taped statements take on greater significance when there is no video of the DUI arrest.
To sum this blog post up, while videos of all kinds–dash-cam, body-cam, in-car–are very helpful in DUI cases in Hamilton County, a person can still be convicted of DUI in Hamilton County based on testimonial evidence alone taken from the police officers doing the DUI investigation.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Central Indiana, especially Hamilton County, call Johnson Law Office, P.C. for experienced and professional criminal defense. Our number is 317.536.6268.