Lights. Cameras. Action. DUI arrests on video. Why aren’t ALL of them videoed?
From time to time, a story like the one HERE comes up. In this story, a video (one from a security camera NOT the police car or the jail) showed a story SIGNIFICANTLY different than that which the officers told. There have been multiple other stories like it over the years. People arrested for DUI that were NOT even close to impaired, but the cop was going to have his arrest, by god.
A few years ago, a Highway Patrolman was brutally murdered on a lonely rural road by a piece of sh__t that the patrolman had stopped for a minor traffic offense. The patrolman had a video system in his car and that murder was caught entirely on tape. As a result, the guy was caught VERY soon thereafter because the car and it’s tag were clearly visible on the tape. It was NO TIME and all OHP vehicles had video systems. But you know what? To get these tapes for DUI arrests, you must SUBPOENA them. Even if you are the arrested person’s lawyer, you can not request them (like you USED TO) and get them. No, you must spend the time, effort, and money to subpoena them. You know what else?Â Most prosecutors don’t ever get them and put them in the State’s file, much less actually review them before bringing or pushing a charge.Â And, that is wrong.
What is there to lose by having all traffic stops videoed? Nothing. Everybody wins. Those cops that do it right and play by the rules will have it there for all to see. If a client claims a cop did something he should not have, it will be there or it won’t. I had that case a few years ago and everything that the client claimed occurred was false. A video avoided a trial and a VERY likely jail sentence for that client. If a cop DOESN’T play by the rules and arrests someone that SHOULD NOT have been arrested, that will be there too. And, those cops need to be exposed as badly as any DUI offender. I have had PLENTY of those cases, too. A cop claimed something happened OR that he did everything by the rules OR that my client looked and sounded skunk drunk, and the video showed a COMPLETELY different story. Take a look HERE to see what I mean.
And, why not put it all on the tape? I represented another lawyer (our office represents MANY of those fellow members of the Bar that find themselves in this predicament) one time that was arrested in Edmond. The cop had a camera and an audio link. Everything was recorded by audio. However, the cop took my client OUT OF THE CAMERA’S VIEW to do the field tests! Why in the world did he do that? The truth is, my client did NOT do as poorly as the cop claimed. We were able to discedrn that from the AUDIO portion of that tape. The tape would have shown the VIDEO of these field tests, too. Although that case came out JUST AS IT SHOULD HAVE, any such evidence could have – AND SHOULD HAVE – been on that video.
Videos of ALL DUI arrests, field test administration, and the breath tests that follow should be a requirement. NO, it should be the law of this State, like it is in South Carolina now. This is NOT new technology. It is NOT that expensive anymore. The excuses of the past just don’t cut it anymore. It should be in EVERY cop car. No evidence should be admissible unless it can be confirmed on that video. It would clean up alot of bad cases. It would eliminate alot of bad cops. It would strengthen the public’s perception of fairness in all traffic stops, too.
Like I said, nobody loses.
Sifers & Sifers, Attorneys at Law
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Oklahoma City, OK 73102
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