Police officers are human, and are therefore capable of making mistakes and errors in judgment. But given the nature of their job and the power their authority wields, it only makes sense in a just society to ensure that their shortcomings do not result in the unfair prosecution of individuals which can damage reputations and lead to undeserved and harsh penalties.
In a DWI arrest, apprehending officers are required to follow a long and comprehensive list of guidelines starting from when to stop a vehicle, up to the procedures in bringing a DWI suspect at the precinct. These guidelines are especially important for a DWI offense because it remains one of only a handful of crimes in the country that can merit an arrest or charge based simply on a police officer’s opinion. It’s a good thing then that most squad cars are equipped with mobile video recording (MVR) systems to capture the situation and prevent abuse.
In a previous post we discussed the key policy guidelines enforced by the Minneapolis PD and many other Minnesota police departments for the use of video recordings for DWI arrests. Today we’re going to examine the process of obtaining and screening DWI arrest recordings often utilized by expert Minnesota DWI defense lawyers to spot compromising police mistakes and use them to invalidate State evidence and get their clients’ cases thrown out.
Obtaining Video and Audio Recordings
Requests for duplicate copies of MVR tapes are passed through the police department’s administration and would be usually be granted to DWI defense attorneys who request them for their clients. If refused for some reason, the next recourse would be to file a subpeona before the courts officially asking for the opportunity to view and own duplicate copies. Note that the defendant assumes all responsibility for the fees required in the process.
Comparing Against Written Accounts
Video and audio recordings provide a definite reference point to examine the police reports, DWI and Implied Consent forms, test records and any other type- or handwritten police accounts pertaining to the arrest. Once both sets of evidence are obtained, a DUI defense attorney can then review the veracity of the accounts against the visual and audio evidence.
It often happens that there are striking differences in the choice of words, description and prescription on the situation between official police reports and preliminary notes jotted down by the police officer while on the scene. These differences can point to exaggerations, contradictory statements, bending of the truth or even outright fabrications. In any case, they would raise serious questions on the fairness and validity of the arrest and/or charges levied against the defendant.
Spotting Procedural Lapses and Errors in Judgment
Visual and audio evidence also stand on their own as proof of procedural lapses and errors in judgment on the part of the arresting officers in a DWI charge. A Minnesota DWI defense attorney would examine these recordings and check for the following commong mistakes:
- Lack of probable cause in stopping the vehicle or in requesting for the apprehended individual to undego field sobriety tests
- Not following the administrative procedures spelled out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
- Failing to provide the required warnings, advice or enumeration of options relating to any requested chemical tests
- Jeopardizing or compromising the test results by not properly following the test instructions
- Failing to disclose the Miranda rights and/or disallowing the defendant to contact an attorney before requesting a test
- Endangering the defendant’s life by conducting the field interrogation close to dangerous situations such as a busy highway, dimly lit areas or uneven surfaces
Of course, visual and audio recordings do not only capture the officer(s)’ actions but the defendants’ as well. This is why a Minnesota driver should calmly and reasonably cooperate with the police when they are pulled over and questioned. It’s also within a civilian’s right to ask if the situation is being recorded in video and audio so he or she can act in their best interests.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI offense, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyer at the soonest possible time. The sooner that your attorney can get his hands on the video recordings of your arrest, the better your chances in determining if your rights have been respected throughout the process.
Charged with a DWI? Call the Kans Law Firm, LLC at (888) 972-6060 for a free case review