Body camera video will often determine whether to challenge a DUI charge

Posted by Matt McLane | May 16, 2024 | 0 Comments

Body camera video from the arresting officer in a DUI case is extremely valuable and will assist the lawyer in his preparation of the case.  As a defense lawyer with over 25 years experience defending DUI cases, I can tell you that video review is the most critical step in the defense process. I always ask my client to review the video with me so I can narrate the officer's actions and inactions to the client. The video will always provide an unbiased view of the incident and the most important a front row seat to the field sobriety testing.  The arresting officer is trained to score the field tests and make a determination whether to continue with the DUI investigation or release the driver and end the encounter.

As most, if not all, police departments now use body worn cameras, the defense attorney should always request the body cameras,  the dash-camera and the intoxilyzer room videos.  The dash camera will provide a view of the alleged traffic infraction that was the basis of the initial car stop. The body camera provides all contact with the driver during the field testing, and the intoxilyzer room video provides counsel the best way to evaluate the officer's conduct and actions in administering the breath test. These officers are trained to follow a specific protocol when administering all sobriety testing.  The video is the best evidence to determine if the officer perhaps violated the protocol by going "off script" and making a crucial error.  For instance, the video will show if the driver may have "belched or burped" during the required 20-minute "deprivation" period prior to providing a breath sample.  The period requires the officer to observe the driver to ensure the driver puts nothing in his mouth in the lead up to the test.  The officer is also required to read the driver the "testing notices" prior to requesting a breath sample.  On occasion, the video and audio will indicate the officer read the wrong notices. For example, the officer may read the testing notices for a "blood or urine" test when in fact he is requesting a breath test.  The minor details, found only by way of video review, can lead to a dismissal of the license suspension and on occasion the dismissal of the DUI case. 

Since video is readily available, all DUI practitioners should request--and pay for--videos from the incident.  The failure to do so is malpractice and indicative of a lazy lawyer who should transition to a an easier area of the law.    

About the Author

Matt McLane

Matt McLane was born in Topeka, Kansas, and moved to Pittsburg, Kansas in 1980 where he attended middle school, high school and college. Upon graduation from PSU in 1992, Matt moved back to Topeka where he attended Washburn University law school. Upon graduation, he moved to Overland Park and worked in a small firm handling DUI and traffic cases. He opened the McLane Law Firm in April 2011 and has built his firm on a strong referral base and solid reputation.


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McLane Law Firm

Matt McLane has been defending individuals charged with DUI, traffic and criminal offenses since his graduation from Washburn University Law School in 1996. Licensed in the states of Kansas and Missouri. Mr. McLane specializes in DUI and criminal defense throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area.

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