Not having a bad video helps your case. Not having a good video hurts your case. The jury values scientific evidence the most, like blood or breath tests. Every case is different so what works on one case may not work on another. There are psychological factors that come into play also. You really should hire a lawyer to help you with this. There are excellent lawyers in Houston.
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Juries tend to rely heavily on officer testimony. More often than not, the officer's testimony makes the tests sound much worse than they look. I'm almost always better off with video of the SFSTs.
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A video is usually more help than harm because it allows an expert to disagree with officer when appropriate and shows everyone what actually happened. The cops are trained to testify effectively and they are hard to beat, even with a good video. Its fair to challenge cops on not having video taped the scene, because video is so common now. Jury might wonder if cop is trying to hide something.
A lot will depend on why the video is not available. If the officer had anything to do with the failure to record the stop - in my experience - that has helped the defense.
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Generally video is helpful to the defense. When it is one person's word against another, the cop is believed and you are not. The exception is if the video shows you falling all over yourself.
Often people think that because it isn’t a murder case, a drunk driving case is simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. These cases can be among the most complex a criminal defense lawyer handles. The government is willing to spend an incredible amount of money to convict you though. They will have expert witnesses available for consultation and trial. This is not a do-it-yourself situation.
That you have been charged or that some contraption says your alcohol level was at a certain level does not mean that you are guilty. It certainly does not mean that you can be proven guilty using competent, valid evidence.
Field sobriety “tests” are designed to give police a reason to arrest. You cannot “pass” them. The police will admit that almost a third of healthy young adults who take these tests without any alcohol will be judged to be “under the influence” – and that assumes they are properly administered!
After even a first drunk driving conviction, you may face employment discrimination. You will certainly be charged higher for insurance. Having such a conviction will also make you a target for drunk driving arrest in future interactions with police. You will automatically become a suspect.
You will want a lawyer who is familiar with field sobriety “tests,” perhaps one who is certified to administer these tests. You will want a lawyer familiar with the weaknesses of the contraptions that are used to report alcohol or drug levels. You want an experienced trial lawyer, used to cross-examining police officers. Police officers are practiced, experienced witnesses.
That is, you want an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, whether you call the offense DUI, OWI, DWI, OUI, or drugged driving.
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The video shows the absurdity of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test "clues". For example, the Walk and Turn clue of "couldn't balance during the instruction phase" sounds pretty bad. Yet when you watch the video, you see that the client who otherwise had perfect balance, inadvertently stepped out of the starting position while watching the officer demonstrate the test. Of course, this doesn't apply if you looked and sounded intoxicated on the video. I agree that juries tend to believe the Officer, unless he's a really bad officer. Remember, the trial is a story, and in that story the officer is usually seen as the hero.. That I learned from Lawrence Taylor, a member of the National College of DUI defense, and an excellent DUI Lawyer out of California. Hope this helps.
James R. "Jim" Butler,Houston,Texas,DWI Lawyer. Free Consultation .Call (713)236-8744. I only represent people accused of DWI in Texas.
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