Admissible Evidence in an Arizona DUI Case
In order for the prosecution to build a case against you when you’re charged with driving under the influence, it will need evidence. Such evidence is collected during a police stop, it’s reflected in the police report and it also comes in the form of the BAC test results.
When evidence is entered, it has to be substantial, relevant and non-prejudiced. These factors determine its admissibility. Depending on the specifics of the case, a good Arizona DUI attorney may challenge some of the evidence and eventually get it dismissed.
Arizona Admissible Evidence Laws
The classification and admissibility of evidence in a DUI case are both described in Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1388.
According to the statute, blood, breath and urine BAC tests have to be administered by trained professionals in order to be admissible. Whenever a person refuses to submit a sample, evidence of this refusal is admissible in both civil and criminal action.
Keep in mind that in Arizona, a breath test administered via the use of a portable instrument immediately after the police stop is not admissible as evidence in a DUI case. Rather, the test should be carried out in a police lab after the respective individual is detained.
As far as relevance of evidence goes, it will be considered admissible whenever the evidence supports the point being made by the prosecution. If, however, evidence results in the defendant being viewed unfavorably for reasons unrelated to the charge, said evidence could be dismissed.
The reliability requirement is met by having the individual responsible for evidence collection (usually a police officer) being capable of proving that the source of the evidence is reliable. This is especially true in the case of eyewitness testimonies. A witness should be credible and they should also have sufficient knowledge to make a certain claim about the defendant.
Hearsay information is not reliable and admissible evidence under Arizona regulations. Such information is typically gathered second-hand and it cannot be verified.
How Will the Court Determine if DUI Evidence is Admissible?
The court will engage in a specific consideration to determine whether a specific piece of evidence is admissible in DUI proceedings.
Some of the questions used to determine evidence admissibility include the following:
- Can the evidence be authenticated?
- Does it help for deciding the action before the court?
- Will the evidence have unfair influence over the judge’s decision?
- Is the evidence hearsay (a very common reason for evidence dismissal)?
- If an expert witness is being used, are they a generally recognized professional within the respective community?
- Was the evidence collected in a lawful manner?
Based on these considerations, for example, a video record created by the police officer during the stop may be admissible as DUI evidence. Many police cars in Arizona are equipped with cameras. Such cameras can be used to record the entire encounter between a defendant and a law enforcement professional. For such a video to be considered admissible evidence in a DUI case, it will have to be either authenticated or verified. This means that the court has to make sure whatever is being shown via the footage is the actual truth and hasn’t been manipulated.
One problem with such videos, especially dash-cam recordings is that they tend to be of inferior quality. Poor resolution and shaky footage could make it difficult to understand what’s going on, hence the prosecution will fail getting sufficient information out of the footage.
Apart from being used by the prosecution, police video could also prove to be helpful to the defense. Occasionally, such video will provide evidence about a stop being unlawful. In such situations, a DUI attorney can challenge the entire evidence collection process, potentially achieving the dismissal of the charges.