Could Police Dashcam Footage Actually Help your DWI Case?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Mon Oct 2016
For someone out there, it might seem like a dream come true. Could police dashcam footage actually help prove innocence? What relevance could it have in a DWI case?
Mobile video recorders (MVRs) are the technical name form dashcams. Since 2014, all new police department vehicles must be equipped with them. Ironically, the legislator who sponsored the bill had a personal interest. According to news articles, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty’s inspiration came from his own DWI arrest.
More than a few people have complained that their arrest was based on the word of a police officer. In Moriarty’s case, it appeared that his arrest was of a political nature. The police report revealed different information than what was later proven. Moriarty was lucky. The town where he was arrested only had mobile video recorders in less than 20% of their police cars. Fortunately, he was pulled over by a vehicle that contained one.
When are Police Dashcams Used?
Each town may have different individual rules when it comes to actually using dashcams. In some cases, the recorder starts whenever flashing lights are placed into action. A recent court case provided details as to an Ocean County police department’s required use of MVRs as follows:
- Anytime emergency lights or wireless microphone is activated
- Can be turned on whenever a police officer feels it is necessary
- Expected to be in use for any major criminal incident, particularly those involving fatal or serious injuries
- Police involved shootings or use of force by police officers
- Traffic stops
- Motor vehicle assistance
- Field sobriety tests
The dashcam footage is considered a part of public record. The advantage to this is that counsel may obtain the records to see if the arrest was made properly. Of course, the downside is that it may document allegations made by the police.
That was not the case for an arrest made in Bloomfield. In fact, a police report was negated based on review of a dashcam. A man who was sentenced to five years in prison was released once the footage was reviewed.