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Investigative Considerations

In a California criminal drunk driving case, the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of every element of the DUI offense. The prosecution will attempt to introduce a variety of evidence to support his or her case.

One type of evidence that may be introduced in a DUI trial is video and/or audio recordings of a traffic stop and arrest. Increasingly, law enforcement officers including sheriff's deputies, members of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), or local police officers are using cameras to record a motorist's actions before and during a traffic stop. Some cameras don't record sound, but law-enforcement agencies sometimes use microphones attached to officers' uniforms to provide audio recordings. This evidence is of most importance to a criminal defense attorney fighting a California DUI case.

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The camera may record not only the interaction between the police officer and the defendant, but also the motorist's driving patterns prior to the stop and performance on field sobriety tests.

The prosecution will use this evidence in a California DUI trial to try to convict the driver, but some recordings actually support the defense. A record of the driver flawlessly performing a field sobriety test will help support the position that the defendant was not intoxicated. Additionally, the recordings may contradict a police report that states that the defendant had slurred speech or a staggering gait.

However, the recording is done by police, not professional cameramen or sound engineers. The video recording may have been inadequately lit or have poor sound quality. Police may have taped only the incriminating part of the DUI traffic stop, giving an unreliable and unfair representation of the event. If that's the case, an experienced California DUI defense lawyer will attempt to exclude this type of evidence before the trial.

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