The types and availability of police reports from a DUI arrest vary in each jurisdiction. Reports such as alcohol influence reports and physical condition reports are often prepared by the investigating officer. Interview sheets may also be prepared and filed in some jurisdictions. If the defendant was involved in an automobile accident in connection with the arrest, a separate accident report is often prepared by the investigating officer.
The official report of the arrest is usually prepared by the arresting officer at the station. This is typically done after the arrest and completion of any state-administered chemical testing. It is a common practice for a police report to recount any field sobriety tests and could include the exact numbers or letters of the alphabet that a defendant failed to accurately recite, precisely how many steps a defendant took before stepping off the white line, or exactly how many seconds a defendant was able to stand on one foot before losing his or her balance. A report may also quote the exact words spoken by the defendant when the officer first approached the defendant’s vehicle following the initial stop. The credibility of an officer whose report contains such information and who did not make field notes as the events occurred may be subject to attack at trial.
To minimize error and lend credibility to their reports, many law enforcement officers make field notes as the events occur and use these notes in the preparation of their report. Because most officers who make notes retain them, one of the tasks of defense counsel in a drunk-driving case is to ascertain whether such notes exist and review those that do. If an officer’s field notes exist and are not made available to defense counsel by either the police or the prosecutor, defense counsel should initiate discovery proceedings to obtain them.
In addition to filing reports, many law enforcement agencies require their officers to account for their time, usually in documents known as activity logs. If the time of occurrence of a particular event is an issue in the case, either in connection with chemical testing or otherwise, the times appearing on the arresting officer’s activity log should be checked. It is not unusual for the times appearing on the activity log to differ from the times set forth in the officer’s report. If activity logs are maintained by the local law enforcement agency, if the time of the arrest or any other event is important in the case, and if neither the law enforcement agency nor the prosecutor will permit inspection of the activity logs, defense counsel should initiate discovery proceedings to obtain access to them.
Police reports and all other physical evidence, including photographs or videos, can be key components in a DUI-DWI case and establishing a police officer’s credibility. Additionally, some reports are not available until after filing Discovery Motions. If you have been arrested for drunk or impaired driving, speak to a skilled DUI attorney today for a free case evaluation and to find out how you can challenge the charges against you. TeamDUI.com attorneys can be reached 24 hours per day at 1-855-350-TEAM.
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