DUI Videos, Part I


The use of video-recorded evidence in DUI in Illinois cases is fairly recent.  They are still the exception to the rule.  For example, very few Chicago squad cars are equipped with them, and this has only occurred in the last few years after a flurry of reports of Chicago police officers who were caught exaggerating or lying about DUI arrests.  The officer in the above video was required to have a camera installed in his car only after there had been numerous complaints lodged against him.  (In all fairness, I should point out that to my knowledge, none of the complaints have been sustained, and he is still employed by the Chicago Police Department.  I see him regularly in Traffic Court.  I should also point out that I have not seen the report that is quoted in the video, so I cannot verify that the quotes are accurate).

I do recall the first time I received a video in a DUI case.  The client was arrested in a suburb of northwest Cook County.  The officer’s description of how my client performed on the field tests did not match with what was on the video.  For example, the officer claimed my client “hopped” during the one leg stand test.  I remember rewinding the tape over and over, and playing it in slow motion, trying to see if my client’s foot ever left the ground.  It didn’t.  The whole tape was like that.

The case was set for a jury trial.  On the day of trial, the State’s Attorney decided to dismiss the case.  On one condition …

…That the videotape was returned to them.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise.  DUIs are often based solely on an arresting officer’s version of what happened.  Judges and juries tend to believe officers’ testimony.  If I only had a dollar for each time someone asked me, “Why would they risk their career over one DUI arrest?” Proof that a respected DUI officer grossly exaggerated an arrest would not be convenient.

To be continued….

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