Many police departments have been relying on cameras mounted on the dashboards of their police cruisers, also known as police dash cams, in New Jersey for years. These devices can be used to document evidence of crimes, capture the physical appearance of suspects, record statements made by both the officer and the person, and generally provide a more accurate depiction of what actually took place in the course of a police encounter and subsequent arrest. Police routinely use such dash cam footage to provide video evidence of DWI offenses. For example, video footage may have captured you weaving between lanes, narrowly missing other vehicles, or otherwise driving recklessly before the officer stopped you. Or perhaps, the video shows that you had bloodshot or watery eyes or were showing other signs of intoxication. On the other hand, dash cam footage can sometimes provide you with a powerful defense against DWI or criminal charges. Read on for more information about police video evidence in New Jersey criminal and DUI cases. If you have questions about how dashcam footage may come into play in your case and possibly assist in your defense, call us today at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an experienced Union County criminal defense attorney free of charge.
Dash Cam Evidence in Your NJ DWI Case
If the police arrest you for driving under the influence of alcohol when your blood alcohol level is very close to the .08 legal limit, or if you are arrested for driving under the influence of a drug or the combination of alcohol and a drug, dash cam footage can sometimes provide strong evidence that you were not driving impaired. There is an important caveat to that statement though, if you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration well-above .08, you may be convicted of what is called a per se DWI. New Jersey law makes it automatically illegal to drive with a BAC about the legal limit, regardless of how well you were driving at the time.
In situations where the police do not have a chemical test result showing your blood alcohol level (ie. breath test results or a blood sample), then dash cam footage of you driving normally, you performing well on field sobriety tests, or you showing no physical signs of intoxication can aid in your defense. A chemical test result showing a BAC over .08 may not be available in a wide variety of situations. For example, they may not be available due to an equipment malfunction, or deemed inadmissible after a successful motion to suppress the breathalyzer results due to improper police calibration or administration of the test. There are also cases where the prosecution cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that your BAC was over .08 at the exact time that you were driving.
The per se .08 limit also does not come into play if you have been charged with driving under the influence of a drug like meth, cocaine, heroin, Xanax, or the like, or if you have been charged with driving under the influence of a drug in combination with a low alcohol level (e.g. a .03 BAC and Xanax). In these situations, your attorney may review the police dash cam footage and find that you were driving straight as an arrow for hundreds of feet or yards prior to the police pulling you over for a tinted window or an expired tag.
Video Footage as a Criminal Defense in New Jersey
In a situation where you have been charged with resisting a police officer, assaulting a police officer, a disorderly conduct charge, or any similar charge, police dash cam footage can similarly provide you with a strong defense. If the acts you are charged with committing occurred within view of the dash camera, of if any audio recording associated with the dash cam picked up what was said, you may be able to cast doubt on the officers’ description of your conduct. This evidence could be open and shut; for example, video evidence may show you calmly getting into the police cruiser at the time when the officer said you were resisting or striking him. The evidence may also be more subtle, although still helpful. If the dash cam audio picks up you calmly stating that your hands are up and that you are not resisting or even moving, that audio evidence can undermine the assault or resisting charges that have been filed against you. In short, dash camera footage can provide accountability and support a legal defense in the case of police overreach. This is also true in the case of police body cameras, which are being used more frequently in New Jersey and elsewhere to deter police misconduct.
Can the Video Help with Your Defense?
If you have been charged with a DUI or criminal offense, it is important to know and understand all of the defenses that may be used to get your case dismissed or to significantly reduce the penalties you are facing. To discuss your specific case and possible video evidence documenting your arrest, contact our local Cranford office today at (908) 838-0150. A criminal attorney at our Union County defense firm is available to provide you with a free consultation.