Video Recording of Police Arrests

Executive Summary: Jurisdictions are increasingly using in-car cameras, which include audio and video recording as valuable tools in impaired driving arrests. An in-car video camera can provide a compelling visual record of driving behavior prior to the stop as well as statements by the suspect and performance on field sobriety tests. This information is vital to cases involving impaired drivers.

More Detail: Many police agencies welcome video cameras as a way to demonstrate that traffic stops are conducted in compliance with sanctioned policies and procedures. Due to liability issues to protect both the accused and the officer, video can demonstrate that the offender was afforded due process and officers performed their jobs lawfully and appropriately. Video footage of the booking of an offender can also be useful to provide further proof of intoxication. This evidence can sometimes be just as valuable as the roadside footage.

There is widespread agreement that cameras can protect the rights of police and citizens, exonerating officers from false complaints and also monitoring appropriate police behavior. Prosecutors report that DUI offenders often will plead guilty after watching a video of their arrest. These admissions of guilt are very beneficial as they reduce delay, help reduce plea negotiation attempts and requests for costly jury trials. At the same time, police officers should be trained in how to testify about recorded arrests of hardcore alcohol-impaired drivers, recognizing that hardcore offenders do not always appear as impaired as they are. Knowing how to capture a good video is also important as proper angle, lighting and sound which can all contribute to an effective video to support their case.

As technology develops and the purchase and operating costs drop for in-car video systems, use of recorded traffic stops will grow increasingly more common, useful, and practical. The benefits for prosecution can provide additional value to support its adoption by law enforcement. Law enforcement could utilize this efficient and effective means of obtaining evidence and, if needed, legislatures and communities can help provide adequate resources for necessary equipment and training.


Suggested Audience: Enforcement, Prosecutors, Judges


Additional Resources:

  • NDAA – Event Data Recorders
  • Jones, B. In-vehicle videotaping of drinking driver traffic stops in Oregon. Accid Anal Prev. 31(1-2):77-84, 1999.
  • Fifth Amendment: Videotaping Drunk Drivers: Limitations on “Miranda’s” Protections
    Jacques Leboeuf The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973- ), Vol. 81, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp. 883-925.
  • The Impact of Video Evidence on Modern Policing
  • Dam, J.L. Sept. 17, 2001. Drunk driving attorneys use police videotapes to win cases. Lawyers Weekly, USA. Lawyers Weekly, Inc.
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police. 2001. Traffic Safety in the New Millennium: Strategies for Law Enforcement: A Planning Guide for Law Enforcement Executives, Administrators and Managers. Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police.
  • Jones, B. January 1998. In-vehicle videotaping of drinking driver traffic stops in Oregon. Accident Analysis and Prevention 31(1): 77?84.
  • Morrison, K. 2002. Evaluation of In-Car Video Systems. Jacksonville, FL: Institute of Police Technology and Management, University of North Florida.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 1996. In-Vehicle Videotaping of DUI Suspects. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Pavic, B., Stoduto, G., Mann, R.E., Anglin, L., and Vingilis, E. 1997. Fast-track courts and video-cameras as drinking driving countermeasures. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Alcohol Drugs and Traffic Safety, Annecy, France.
  • Institute for Police Training and Management.
  • The Century Council. DUI Data – In-Car Video Recording