What Can a Defense Attorney Do With the Prosecutor’s DWI Video?

Understanding the answer to the question, “What can a defense attorney do with the prosecutor’s DWI video?” may help you build a solid defense. . The lawyer can use a DWI video to show that the police officer lacked enough probable cause to stop your vehicle. A prosecutor’s DWI video may help cast doubt on the officer’s testimony. It may also be instrumental in negotiating a favorable plea deal. 

What Can a Defense Attorney Do with the Prosecutor’s DWI Video?

Show There Was No Proof That You Were Driving While Intoxicated 

A defense attorney can use the prosecutor’s DWI video as part of your defense strategy if you appear in the footage and do not seem intoxicated. Maybe your speech is clear, or perhaps you are cooperating well with the arresting officer. 

The video may also show that your eyes are clear, and you are not struggling with balance. Your attorney can use the video evidence to argue that your conduct did not reflect that of someone intoxicated. 

Show the Officer Lacked Sufficient Reasonable Cause to Stop Your Vehicle 

The prosecutor’s DWI video may capture your driving pattern before getting stopped. The video may, for instance, show that your driving pattern was normal. Simply put, the arresting officer lacked enough reasonable cause to pull over your vehicle and arrest you. 

Your defense attorney may request to have this video evidence excluded from your case by filing a motion to suppress. At the hearing, your attorney will cross-examine the officer about pulling over the vehicle and play the video in court.

The judge might grant the motion and order the DWI evidence in question excluded from the case if the judge establishes that the officer lacked reasonable cause to pull over the vehicle. The prosecution might drop the charges if there is no other evidence to prosecute the case further. It’s important to note that contesting the legality of the traffic stop is one of the most common Minnesota DWI defenses. 

Protect Your Rights 

Police officers must inform you of your Miranda rights before arresting you. The law bars them from using any statements you made during the arrest against you if they failed to advise you on your right to remain silent. Your defense attorney can review the bodycam video to determine if the arresting officer violated your Miranda rights. If so, your attorney can push to have those statements suppressed at trial. 

Show Errors in the Administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests 

Field sobriety tests are based on the impact of different levels of alcohol in the bloodstream on a person’s physical abilities. Police officers rely on these tests to identify signs of intoxication and build reasonable cause to make a DWI arrest decision. 

Police officers undergo specialized training in the administration of these tests. They are trained on how to guide the driver to take the test, how to observe the driver while taking the test, and how to score the driver’s performance. 

The video can reveal more than just your performance. It can show whether the officer committed substantial blunders when guiding you on how to do the test, observing you do the test, or scoring you. 

Police officers must follow the set procedures when administering standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). Your defense attorney can argue that the results of your SFSTs are inaccurate or unreliable if the officer made mistakes or failed to follow the test’s procedures. 

Challenge the Validity of Breathalyzer Test Results 

A DWI defense attorney can use footage of the breathalyzer test procedure to challenge the test results. The attorney may argue that the police officer failed to comply with the 15-20 minutes observation period before administering the test. The attorney can support this argument by playing the video showing the officer administering the test just a few seconds after you had burped or belched. 

The observation period ensures the subject has not regurgitated or introduced a foreign material in the mouth. The reason is that a foreign material or abdominal alcohol that finds its way into the mouth can compromise the breath test reading. 

Your defense attorney will ensure the police officer that administered the breath test had a valid and up-to-date certification. The attorney will also ensure the officer followed the testing protocols correctly. The attorney can challenge the accuracy and validity of the test results if the officer’s had no current certification or did not follow testing procedures. 

Cast Doubt Into the Officer’s Testimony 

Video evidence can show significant inconsistencies between a police officer’s testimony and what happened during the vehicle stop. The officer may, for instance, claim that you had slurred speech, difficulty standing up, and bloodshot watery eyes. If the video shows that you spoke clearly, stood comfortably, and eyes were clear, it may discredit the officer’s testimony and weaken the prosecution’s evidence. 

Negotiate the Best Plea Deal with the Prosecution 

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that up to 95% of federal and state criminal cases resolve through a plea bargain. So, if a DWI video contains details that might weaken the prosecution’s evidence, your attorney can use it to negotiate a favorable plea deal for you. Your attorney may, for instance, negotiate to have your charges reduced to a Minnesota misdemeanor DWI.

Hold Police Officers Responsible for Their Actions       

It’s not uncommon for police officers to step beyond their mandate when enforcing the law. They can do that at the traffic stop when dealing with a potential DWI incident. Your attorney can use a video showing the arresting officer acting aggressively during the arrest while you were calm to question the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence. The attorney can also use video evidence to hold the arresting officer liable for his or her actions.

What if the Prosecution Tries to Suppress the Body Camera Footage?

The prosecution might attempt to exclude body camera footage from the evidence if the footage favors your DWI case. A Minneapolis DWI defense attorney can aggressively fight against the prosecution’s efforts to remove the body camera footage from the evidence. The attorney can present convincing arguments on how the body camera footage could help your defense. These and other things that answer the question, “What can a defense attorney do with the prosecutor’s DWI video?” may help you understand the options available to you and your legal representation for building a solid defense to the charges you face.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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