If you are facing a DUI charge in North Charleston, there is a good chance that there is video footage of your arrest. All police vehicles in South Carolina are equipped with dash cameras, and the police are required to record all DUI stops under state law.
So, what does this mean for your DUI case? Can you use the dash camera footage of your arrest to your advantage? How can prosecutors use the footage against you? What does it mean if the police didn’t capture your DUI stop on video? Here’s an overview of what you need to know when facing a DUI charge in North Charleston:
5 Ways a Defense Lawyer Can Use Dash Camera Footage to Your Advantage
There are a variety of ways a defense lawyer may be able to use the dash camera footage of your DUI arrest to your advantage. With that said, whether dash camera footage helps or hurts your case depends heavily on what the footage shows. Some examples of ways your lawyer might be able to use the footage to your advantage include:
1. Showing that the Police Lacked Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over
The police are supposed to start recording as soon as they turn on their lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop. The reason for this is to document their justification for pulling someone over. The Fourth Amendment requires that the police have reasonable suspicion to execute a stop. If dash camera footage shows that you were driving safely and in accordance with South Carolina’s traffic laws, this could provide grounds to argue that your DUI stop was unconstitutional.
2. Showing that the Arresting Officer Improperly Administered the Breath Test
When administering the breathalyzer during a DUI stop, the police must follow strict testing protocols and procedures. If the dash camera footage from your DUI stop shows that the arresting officer failed to do everything that was required, this could render your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading inadmissible in court.
3. Showing that the Arresting Officer Improperly Administered the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
Dash camera footage can also be used to show flaws in the administration of the field sobriety tests. If the arresting officer failed to adequately explain the tests, if the arresting officer had you perform the tests on uneven or unstable ground, or if the arresting officer did not carefully examine your performance throughout the entirety of each test, these are all issues that could render your FST results inadmissible as well.
4. Showing that You Passed the Field Sobriety Tests Despite What the Arresting Officer Reported
Your lawyer may also be able to use the dash camera footage from your DUI arrest to show that you passed the FSTs despite what the arresting officer reported. If the footage shows that you performed the tests successfully, that you slipped, or that the officer wasn’t paying attention, these are all facts that your lawyer may be able to use to help you avoid a conviction.
5. Showing that You Were Interrogated in Custody Without Being Read Your Rights
Before interrogating you in custody, the police are required to read your Miranda rights. If the video footage of your arrest does not show the police reading your rights, your lawyer may be able to use this to keep anything you said after your arrest out of court.
5 Ways Prosecutors Can Use Dash Camera Footage to Convict You
While there are a variety of ways that dash camera footage can potentially help your defense in a North Charleston DUI case, in some cases footage of your arrest can make it more difficult to assert a successful defense as well. For example, prosecutors may be able to use the footage against you if:
- The footage shows that you were swerving on the road or exhibiting other characteristics of drunk driving
- The footage shows that the arresting officer properly administered the breath test and FSTs
- The footage shows you stumbling on the side of the road
- The footage shows you admitting to drinking and driving before being taken into custody
- The footage shows the officer reading your rights before you admit to having had too much to drink
If the arresting officer’s dash camera footage clearly shows that you were drunk and also shows that the officer followed the law, what does this mean for your defense?
In this scenario, the footage of your DUI stop can serve as strong evidence of guilt. But, this does not mean that you should resign yourself to facing a guilty verdict in court. There could be other issues with your case; and, even if a conviction appears likely, you may still be able to avoid unnecessary consequences by negotiating a plea deal or taking advantage of one of South Carolina’s diversion programs.
What It Means if Your DUI Stop Wasn’t Recorded on the Officer’s Dash Camera
These are some of the possibilities when your DUI stop is caught on video. But, what if the police failed to record your arrest?
If the police failed to record your DUI stop, this could work in your favor. In fact, it could be enough to warrant dismissal of your DUI on its own. However, if the arresting officer can attest that his or her dash camera wasn’t working (and if prosecutors can prove it), then prosecutors may still be able to use other evidence to convict you. Here too, the options you have available depend heavily on the circumstances at hand, and you will need to work with an experienced defense lawyer who can help you choose the best way to handle your DUI.
Contact Deaton Law Firm for a Free DUI Consultation in North Charleston
Are you facing a DUI charge in North Charleston? If so, we invite you to schedule a free consultation at Deaton Law Firm. To discuss your case with defense lawyer Rad S. Deaton in confidence, call 843-225-5723 or request an appointment online today.