DWI Video and the Public Record: What You Can Learn From Randy Travis
As a Houston DWI attorney, dealing with the DWI video may be the most unexpected variable of handling a DWI case. The common variable with most people who have been arrested and charged with DWI is that they will describe it as one of the worst experiences of their life. Whether it was missing an unmarked police car’s license plate, suffering an illegal traffic stop or getting caught in a “No Refusal” weekend, getting a DWI is awful. There’s the arrest, night(s) in jail, fines, court dates, ALR hearings and everything in-between, the last thing anyone wants to do is relive their DWI arrest through the video recording.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option. Today, most police encounters are recorded on video, and DWI is no exception. While these videos are mostly for use in court and for examination by your DWI attorney, they are considered part of the public record and can be released should someone request them. Just ask country singer Randy Travis.
While keeping your DWI video out of the public record would probably require a trip to the Supreme Court, there are things you can do to minimize the issue and protect your image against a potentially harmful DWI video.
DWI Video: Recordings and Public Information Laws
Occasionally, we hear the question, “Can a recording be used as evidence in court?” You may be surprised to learn that DWI videos and the public record are actually clear cut. Under Texas law, the government is obligated to release anything considered part of the public record to the requestor should they go through the proper channels to obtain it. This includes DWI videos, mugshots, documents or any other declassified information related to your DWI case. As we’ve recently seen, the rules for DWI videos apply to everyone, even superstars like Randy Travis.
Additionally, DWI recordings are considered video evidence and can be used against you in court (more on that later). It may not sound fair, but time-and-time again, thecourts have agreed otherwise. It’s all in the name of government transparency and preventing law enforcement agencies from withholding valuable information from the public, regardless of how it makes law enforcers look. For example, it can be incredibly helpful when used to exonerate an innocent person or to reveal the truth that a public figure is trying to cover up. That said, it can be terribly frustrating if those recordings contain your life’s most regrettable moments.
How to Keep a DWI Video from Ruining Your Life
While the law might not be of much help, there are some very important things you can do to keep a DWI recording from getting released and inadvertently ruining your life.
Don’t Make a Scene
Nobody wants to watch a boring movie and the same goes for a boring police video. If you comply with basic requests, keep your feelings to yourself and do your best to behave in an orderly fashion, then the public interest in your DWI video probably won’t extend beyond the courtroom. That’s not all, an uneventful DWI video can make you look a lot better to a jury. When these videos are played in court, defendants who are caught stumbling, screaming or throwing a fit on camera don’t exactly play well. On the other hand, looking calm and controlled in police footage can undermine their claims of intoxication and make you look much better against the accusations. While DWI video evidence alone and by itself may not be enough to convict, don’t make it easy for the prosecution. If your toxicology results are bad, embarrassing dashcam video evidence can be enough to land a conviction.
Have Your DWI Conviction Sealed
The best way to keep an employer, significant other or family member from discovering your DWI recording is to keep a conviction off your record altogether. Thanks to a new Texas law, you can finally seal your DWI conviction from the public record. With your conviction sealed, no one will even know that there is a video to request in the first place.
Protect Your Reputation Prior to Conviction
Similarly, beating your DWI charges outright will make your DWI video harder to find and much less harmful to your public image. Despite how the police and the prosecutors might act, DWI accusations don’t equal a slam dunk conviction. With a strong DWI attorney on your side, it could be possible to beat your charges and protect your license before anyone even knows there’s a video to discover.
Keep Your DWI (and DWI Video) Out of the Public Eye!
Don’t join the Texas DWI statistics. The best defense against a DWI video is to keep people from finding it in the first place, and that means handling your case properly and quickly. Mark Thiessen and the team at Thiessen Law Firm have helped many people beat DWI charges and have even used video evidence against the State to prove their clients’ innocence.
If you’ve been charged with DWI in Texas, don’t put your livelihood and your reputation at risk another second! Contact the Thiessen Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and get your case off to the right start.