I was reading DUI Attorney Mark Steven's blog and he touched upon a subject that concerns many DUI attorneys. Why don't more police officers videotape DUI arrests? Clearly, this would be the best evidence of a person's degree of impairment. So, why not use videotape in a DUI investigation?
Mark addresses this issue in his post Why Aren't Most New Hampshire DWI Arrests Video Recorded? He writes:
Just about everywhere you go today in public you are being videotaped. You are videotaped at your bank, supermarket, shopping mall, drive through lines for fast food, donut shops, even little convenience stores. Just about every place is equipped with a video camera these days. If someone holds up a little store or commits just about any crime in public there is a video of the event on the evening news, copied from a surveillance camera. It has become very inexpensive to capture a high quality audio and video recording for safety and security purposes of just about every aspect of our everyday lives.
When you watch cop shows at night all sorts of DWI and other arrests are captured on cruiser videos all over the country. You can see clearly and hear easily whether the driver is drunk or not on these video recordings made from cruiser cameras. Police departments all around the country also video and audio record bookings. With a good quality video recording little is left to the imagination as to whether the driver was really drunk or not. So why aren't most DWI arrests in New Hampshire video and audio recorded?
Is it a "safety issue"? It would seem unlikely that there is a safety issue here that doesn't exist in any other part of the United States. Is it cost? That seems unlikely with the massive amount of money being thrown into inefficient DWI roadblocks and inaccurate hand-held breath testing gadgets. Last year stories were published about a $400,000.00 "batmobile" for the local police to use during DWI roadblocks. It cannot seriously be argued that the police cannot afford to videotape DWI arrests.
So if it's not safety and it's not cost, what could it be? We all know that DWI is a serious law enforcement concern; we hear that all the time, year after road-blocking year. Wouldn't the best way to prosecute a drunk driving case be to show the judge or jury a videotape of the driver if he or she was really drunk? So why don't the police want to show a videotape of a drunk driver at a drunk driving trial?
Could it be that some of the people arrested for drunk driving are not drunk? Or that they really don't act and speak as drunkardly as the police reports describe? It is easy enough to form your own conclusions as to why most DWI arrests are not videotaped.
Think about the power a videotape could have in a DUI case. When a person has a blood test result of .200, there is an expectation that person will be acting in a certain manner (generally, this manner is face down, on the floor, drunk.) A video showing them walking around, following a police officer's instructions and responding appropriately to instructions may make a person (like a juror) question the accuracy and reliability of that test result.