If you're facing a DWI charge, it's always a stressful situation. You're undoubtedly worried about the possible consequences of a criminal conviction and how it might interfere with your life. But if you hold a public office, have a high-profile job, or are well-known in your community, a criminal DWI charge can have serious consequences beyond potential jail time and fines. After a recent arrest, a Texas councilman discovered that the impact of body cam footage from a DWI arrest could go beyond the courtroom.
Body Camera Footage as Evidence
On November 6, 2022, San Antonio police arrested a local councilman after he allegedly crashed his Jeep Wrangler into a Honda Civic at Jones Maltsberger and Redland. Police charged him with DWI and fleeing the scene of a crash after he drove home, and police found him in his front yard. Police reported the councilman had difficulty standing and was slurring his words. News reports indicated that the councilman was on his way home from a bar, reportedly consuming 14 drinks within a few hours. He then drove to Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, where he engaged in some erratic behavior. Police are currently investigating the bar for overserving.
When a reporter from Express-News submitted a request under the Texas Public Information Act for the body cam and police vehicle video footage from the councilman's arrest, the City of San Antonio denied the request. A letter from city attorneys cited the pending investigation stating, “[t]he release of the requested information would interfere with the detection, investigation, and prosecution of crime.”
Police Video Evidence in Court
While the San Antonio councilman has a short reprieve from the public release of potential DWI video evidence, the prosecutor may still use it in his court case. However, your attorney may also use it in your defense. Under Texas law, you are entitled to “a copy of any video made by or at the direction of the officer that contains footage of: (1) the stop; (2) the arrest; (3) the conduct of the person stopped during any interaction with the officer, including during the administration of a field sobriety test; or (4) a procedure in which a specimen of the person's breath or blood is taken.” Tex. Pen. Code § 49.08. You also have a right to view any video evidence before trial.
While you may assume that video from the police capturing your stop and arrest might always be negative, your attorney may use it in your defense in some cases. A video may show:
- That you weren't visibly intoxicated when police stopped you, if you appear clear-eyed, with clear speech, or if you appear to have passed your field sobriety tests on camera,
- Any inappropriate behavior from the police, such as unnecessary aggression, violence, or unclear directions,
- Obstacles to your field sobriety tests including inclement weather, cars passing nearby at a high rate of speed, inappropriate footwear, or loose gravel, potholes, or ground obstacles present during your testing.
Your attorney may request and use the video in court in these cases.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense
It can be a serious matter if you're facing a DWI charge in Texas. You need someone with experience in complex DWI cases who knows how to handle the case inside and outside the courtroom, particularly when your reputation is on the line. Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board Certified DWI Defense and Criminal Defense law expert. He is one of only two attorneys in Texas holding Board Certified in both these specialties.
U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug a 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Houston DWI defense. Find out what Doug and the skilled team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm can do for you. Call them at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.
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