Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case involving the defendant’s claim that the prosecution failed to preserve evidence that would have shown police violated his rights. However, ultimately, the court concluded that the video, at best, could provide “potentially useful” evidence, but could not show that he was not guilty of the charged offense. Thus, the court rejected the defendant’s claim and affirmed his conviction.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, a police officer heard tires squealing and observed a car take off at a high rate of speed. The officer pulled over the car, which the defendant was driving. The officer noticed that the defendant smelled like alcohol, and arrested him, and took him to a booking facility.
Police asked the defendant to perform two sobriety tests, which he did. They then informed the defendant of his Miranda rights, at which point the defendant invoked his right to consult with an attorney. The officers explained the consequences of refusing a breath or blood test, and the defendant again insisted on having counsel present. Police officers then obtained a warrant to take the defendant’s blood, which revealed he had a blood-alcohol concentrate of .121, well over the legal limit.
Initially, the prosecutor of the defendant’s case decided not to bring charges, concerned that the police officers violated the defendant’s right to counsel. At this point, the defendant requested that the police preserve all evidence related to his arrest. After the defendant was later arrested on similar charges, a different prosecutor decided to file charges based on the first incident. However, the surveillance video of the defendant’s booking was not preserved.
The defendant filed a pre-trial motion to suppress, arguing that the police failed to allow him to consult with counsel after he requested to do so. He also claimed that the police “violated his due process rights by failing to preserve any audio or video recordings from his arrest.”
A police officer testified that he gave the defendant ample opportunity to call an attorney. However, the defendant testified that police allowed him to call his wife, but refused to allow him to call an attorney. The trial court denied the motion, explaining that the evidence in question was not “exculpatory.” A jury convicted the defendant, and he later appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, agreeing with the lower court that the video evidence was not exculpatory and, at best, would have been useful to the defendant in his motion to suppress. The court explained that the defendant needed to show that the police or prosecutors acted in bad faith when they failed to preserve the video, which he failed to do.
Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI Offense?
If you were recently arrested for an Arizona drunk driving offense, do not give up hope. Instead, reach out to Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a dedicated criminal defense attorney who handles all types of Arizona DUI offenses, including those involving accidents and refusals. To learn more, contact Attorney Novak at 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation. You can also reach him through the online form on his website.