Audio Evidence in DUI Cases

Phoenix Lawyer Representing Persons in Drunk Driving Matters

Audio evidence in DUI cases may include voice, dispatch, and 911 recordings. This evidence may be helpful if it demonstrates that an officer wasn’t truthful or accurate when testifying about the detention or arrest. However, it can also be harmful, if it tends to show that you were intoxicated when you were pulled over. If you are concerned about audio evidence in a DUI case, you should consult seasoned Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak.

Audio Evidence in DUI Cases

While police officers pull over a driver suspected of driving under the influence, they will seek evidence of intoxication, such as through questioning, observation, or field sobriety tests. Upon investigation, if the officers have probable cause to believe that the driver has committed a DUI, they will arrest the driver.

The audio evidence available in a DUI case hinges on the law enforcement agency that made the arrest and the particular circumstances of the stop. In some cases, law enforcement vehicles have dashboard cameras that record audio. Dispatch calls made by a police officer are also recorded. All of these may be used by the prosecution as evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver is guilty of driving under the influence.

Helpful Audio Evidence

Depending on the content of the recording, audio evidence may be critical to your defense. An audio recording may contradict an officer’s testimony and the arrest report. For instance, if the police officer who pulled you over claims that you slurred your speech, but an audio recording demonstrates that you spoke clearly and eloquently, the court may view the testimony or report of the police officer as not being credible. Similarly, a 911 recording after a DUI that results in an accident might contradict conclusions drawn by the police officers who investigated the accident. An officer may make remarks to dispatch in a dispatch recording that contradict what he said in the police report and this recorded contradiction can be used to challenge his credibility.

An audio recording can also be used to show that officers made misleading statements about you taking or not taking a blood test or submitting to a field sobriety test. It may be possible to get those test results suppressed through a pretrial motion.

Damaging Audio Evidence

On the other hand, an audio recording could also bolster the state’s case and demonstrate that the driver was intoxicated. Audio evidence may corroborate a police officer’s testimony about what happened during the detention and investigation. For example, the dispatch call might show that the driver was belligerent and incoherent while being pulled over, and this might support the state’s allegations. In that case, the defense lawyer may seek to suppress the recording or call into question its reliability. For instance, if a police officer violated a driver’s Fourth Amendment rights by detaining the driver without reasonable suspicion of intoxication, the defense may ask the court to suppress any evidence obtained during the stop, including any audio recordings.

Admissibility of Audio Evidence

Both the prosecution and the defense have an interest in the admissibility of audio evidence in a DUI case. To be admitted, the audio evidence must be relevant, reliable and not prejudiced. The audio evidence is reliable if the side entering the evidence can establish that the source of the audio is reliable. Unreliable evidence must be excluded.

In some cases, it may be possible to file a motion to suppress harmful audio evidence as unreliable or irrelevant. The prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard. Chipping away at the evidence to raise reasonable doubt or obtain leverage for a plea deal may be a strong defense strategy.

Retain an Experienced Phoenix Attorney

Audio evidence in DUI cases must be carefully reviewed because it may be helpful or harmful to the defense. If you have been charged with drunk driving, you should discuss the case with seasoned lawyer James E. Novak. In building a strong defense for his clients, Mr. Novak brings to bear years of experience and insight as a former prosecutor. He represents clients facing DUI charges in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact us at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

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