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I had my first body cam case last month. It was an OWI (DUI) case in Iowa and a municipal law enforcement agency that has early-adopted body cameras. I applaud the decision. However, it’s going to require getting some of the bugs out.
1. Bloodshot, watery eyes
2. Slurred speech
3. Odor of alcohol “about” the
the officer’s subjective observations might otherwise be objectively debunked, which typically contain the following cut and paste assertions:
First, it was used as a substitute for the in-dash patrol car video. It does not appear that was a specific protocol, but in this particular anecdotal case/situation, the officer specifically directed another officer that he had his body camera running and that the follow-on officer did not need to have his in-dash camera running. I think the more audio/video sources helps everyone. That’s why, in my opinion, it was not controversial for the White House to propose that law enforcementadd body cameras to their toolbox. Of course, funding is always an issue.
Moreover, the results of the preliminary breath test (PBT) are inadmissible under state law to prove whether the Defendant was operated while intoxicated but are used as one of many factors in the “reasonable grounds” to trigger implied consent and a request for a more comprehensive Datamaster breath test back at the stationhouse.
Body camera in use by West Midlands Police, United Kingdom. Image credit: By West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom (Lapel cameras Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Without a Datamaster test and without field sobriety tests in becomes much more difficult for a jury to substantively corroborate the officer’s observations of probable insobriety. I think the body cameras are a good thing but I believe they should supplement, not substitute for, in-car dash cameras.
The walk and turn and one-leg stand, if photographed in good lighting conditions and under optimal testing conditions can corroborate those subjective observations. Without them, it is possible to argue that there is not enough evidence to credit the officers' other subjective observations.
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