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How influential is the DUI Police Report?

Getting your hands on the police report is very important if only to know their version of the events leading to arrest on DUI charges. For the defense attorney this will be his primary focus once he has taken up the task of defending you in court. The document gives a comprehensive idea where the prosecution is likely to nail the defendant in a DUI hearing and forewarns the attorney how to prepare the ideal defense strategy. That is why this report is essential to fight a case correctly.

It can evoke a queasy feeling unravelling the facets that constitute the DUI police report. It lays bare the facts that need to be refuted in court. Among the tests that will stand out will be the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test or PAS Test, the breathalyzer result and the readings of the blood and urine sample test. Over and above these test results you will also encounter the site narrative reports filed by the arresting officer or officers handling the DUI situation. Briefly it will detail the reasons for the stop, how you behaved when asked to produce your license and registration and then go on to describe how you performed the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) and PAS test.

The descriptive portions of the police report may end up shocking readers as it will normally be carrying a harrowingly deceitful record of the defendant’s behavior during the Terry stop. The defendant will be described as having slurred incoherent speech, red glazed eyes and completely disheveled appearance, with an excessively alcohol laced breath. Shockingly, it will go on to say your movements were totally uncoordinated and that you fumbled while searching for your license and literally stumbled out of the car when asked to step out. The report may also indicate you failed to stand on one leg and flunked the heel to toe walking test. The report will probably emphasize you failed to show proper and coordinated eye tracking movements in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test

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In his anxiety not to be charged with something he didn’t do, the layman may feel that it is important to argue the fallacies that the police have punctuated their report with. Defendants would love to speak out and encourage their defense counsel to argue over the falsely implicating charges in the report narrative about how they were accosted and how poorly they responded under questioning, how badly they performed the sobriety tests and so on, but the real issue is not the verbiage of the police report, but the test result. If the test proves that your BAC exceeded 0.08 you are in all likelihood headed for a conviction as far as the majority of jury members are concerned. The jury might support the defendant in regard to many other points erroneously described in the report but when it comes to the BAC score exceeding 0.08 there is no compromise.

The police know this fundamental aspect of their DUI report and choose not to deviate from the body, substance and tenor of the report in describing the events leading to the stoppage and the PAS and FSTs that followed. The police officers say they will be using the report to refresh and remember their recollection of events leading to the arrest, meaning that they don’t have to remember the specifics of the case because the report says it all in detail.

The only problem that the prosecution is likely to face is when the officer’s testimony deviates substantially from the written report. This gives the defense the opportunity to puncture holes in the testimony thereby discrediting the testimony and the police report. This gives an indication as to how important the police report becomes to building the prosecution case.

From the point of view of the defense there are basic questions that need to be asked after reviewing the prosecution’s case and police report:

  • Are there factors that could be highlighted that could throw doubt on the readings listed in the police report, especially the BAC exceeding 0.08 limits?
  • Have the FSTs been conducted properly and do the procedures conform to the rules and standards that are to be followed in such cases?
  • Does the defense have access to reliable witnesses that can testify as to the falseness or cast doubts on the veracity of the tests results?
  • Has it become necessary for the defendant to take the stand and testify, and if yes, would he be able to argue the case effectively?

The police report undoubtedly tends to be the last word as far as the DUI is concerned and overall they create a great impression on the jury in a court. But at the same time a police report is not a flawless document nor can it be assumed that all facts mentioned in the report are above suspicion and 100% correct. The experienced DUI makes it his duty to highlight the inconsistencies that appear in the report and the testimony of witnesses to question the credibility of the repot which can go a long way in protecting the interests of the defendant.

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