How Do Dash Cam Videos Play Into DUI Charges?
In 1998, state lawmakers in South Carolina passed legislation that required any arrest related to drunken driving to be videotaped. Every law enforcement vehicle has a camera. If there is no camera present, the officer must fill out an affidavit and explain why there is no video for the arrest. Advocates of the video process note that it is an important part of ensuring that officers are conducting sobriety tests as they should. Below is an outline of the state’s requirements and how video can affect the outcome of the case.
Essentially, law enforcement officers in South Carolina must start rolling the tape as soon as they turn on the siren and flashing lights. They must video every aspect of the arrest, including the following:
- Any testing done on-site
- Any testing done at the police station
- The reading of the Miranda rights
A judge can review the tape to ensure that a suspect has been read his or her rights. Further, the tape will reveal whether or not a breath test was given within the required three hours of getting pulled over. The tape should show that the officer read the suspect the implied consent warning, checked the person’s mouth, waited 20 minutes and informed the suspect that the test will be videotaped.
When the Tape Matters
Because these videos can capture such pertinent information, they are useful in building a defense to DUI charges. For example, if the tape reveals that the officer strayed from state guidelines, it is possible that the charges could be reduced or dismissed. It is also possible that a judge could throw out a case if an officer failed to video the arrest. However, if the officer signs and affidavit and can demonstrate that the recording device was inoperable, a judge likely will not throw out the case. In those situations, the officer will have to prove that he or she made reasonable efforts to capture a videotape of the event.
There are many vocal opponents to the law that mandates video of DUI arrests. Some people state that the law makes it too easy for cases to get dismissed. However, advocates say that the solution is not to stop taping but rather to provide better training for law enforcement officers regarding DUI test processes. Videotaping an arrest ensures that a suspect is not mistreated during the process. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP our attorneys know exactly what procedures should be followed by an officer during a drunk driving arrest. We have a history of helping clients navigate the legal system to secure a favorable outcome following such charges.