One of the most often asked questions I get as a DUI Defense Attorney is, “My arrest was on video, right?”
The answer usually is “no”. Most law enforcement agencies, surprisingly, don't have video recording equipment in their patrol cars.
Why? Expense is an often cited reason. It costs money to put video/audio recorders in patrol cars. I have watched videos that don't help the officers and sometimes they are removed for an unknown reason. For example, I saw an experienced Washington State Patrol Trooper testify that he advised a suspect DUI Driver that the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) were voluntary. However, watching the video in Court, that is NOT what transpired. The Trooper told the suspect to exit the vehicle and then the Trooper said, “We are going to do some tests…” It was not long after this episode that the Trooper no longer had a video recorder in his patrol car.
Sometimes for whatever reason, the recording capabilities malfunction. Seattle is one of the few agencies that has video recording capabilities. For example, recently the City of Seattle Prosecutors revealed that there were glitches with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) in-car videos. Apparently, according to a source, when the Seattle Police Department switched to a new high-definition resolution system, there was possibly a glitch that caused some frames to drop from the videos.
If a video is missing or has glitches, it may affect the City's and or State's case. Also, some issues may result in suppression of evidence, or even dismissals of cases.