Keeping DUI enforcement "honest" | Buzz Blog

Friday, March 30, 2012

Keeping DUI enforcement "honest"

Posted By on March 30, 2012, 8:46 PM

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This week's admission on the stand by Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lisa Steed that she had violated policy during a DUI traffic stop highlighted, albeit inadvertently, why the use of dashboard cams is the great equalizer in DUI enforcement. ---

You only have to read through the UHP's operating policy on the use of mobile video recording equipment—which you can read below—to see how troopers are required to check sound levels on both their mics and ensure that the camera captures any external activity.

Video protects both the driver and the trooper from either side deviating from the truth.

Spend time watching some troopers' videos, however, and it seems as if they are hell bent on doing the opposite of what they are supposed to. Drivers are taken off-camera to perform field sobriety tests; troopers might have the car mic running but their uniform mic off; sometimes, as I've seen troopers do in several videos, they will actually turn up the radio before they get out of the car to ensure their dialogue with the driver is not audible.

DUI attorney Jason Shatz is "a huge proponent of videos." South Carolina, he says, is the only state that makes it mandatory that troopers have audio and video running throughout any encounter with the public, including the transportation of an individual to jail.

The video camera is on a swivel, so a trooper can position the camera so it captures whatever they want. Shatz has had officers who "intentionally, even negligently are not using [the video] equipment which cost tax payers thousands of dollars."

For the most part, he says, troopers use video appropriately. But there are still a few who do everything they can, "to defeat the camera."

The UHP policy on videos is "great," he says, but what is not clear is whether the failure to follow it is a due process violation that can lead to suppression of the evidence the trooper is bringing against a driver. Only in South Carolina, Shatz says, does failure to record audio and video lead to the possibility of a dismissal.

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