Chicago Police Lose DUI Case Over Video Evidence
A driver who was accused of driving drunk in Chicago has walked away because police in the case refused to deliver video evidence of the incident. The January 2016 ruling from the Illinois Appellate Court held that the driver, Richard Moravec, was entitled to the dashcam videos from his arrest and also any relevant footage from Chicago’s system of surveillance devices, which are known as police observational devices or “POD” cameras.
Back in 2003, Chicago installed cameras that are remote-controlled, capable of rotating 360 degrees, and able to zoom in on things that are of interest to the police headquarters’ monitoring center. All of this footage is saved for a minimum of two weeks. After Moravec was arrested on June 6, 2012, on a DUI charge, his legal team requested the video footage before the expiration of the 15-day retention period.
Moravec was stopped by a Chicago police officer at the intersection of Western Avenue and Thomas Street in the city, a spot that is in sight of three POD cameras. Moravec’s attorney was told by police officials that there was no dashcam footage of his arrest and that the footage from the POD cameras was not available because of technical issues. Later, it came to light that the footage may have been overwritten.
The Court’s View
Judge William H. Hooks of the Cook County Circuit Court penalized the prosecution for not complying with the video discovery request by not allowing police officers to testify, effectively allowing Moravec to walk away. This led to the appeal, with prosecutors insisting there was no evidence of misconduct on their side, but the three-judge panel from the appellate court was not convinced.
One of the judges on the panel, John B. Simon, noted in his writings for the court that Moravec had made the request for the footage in time and that the state’s failure to produce it was an issue because the recordings could have aided the trial court’s truth-seeking function. While prosecutors had argued that not allowing police officers to testify was too heavy of a penalty in the appeal, the appellate court did not agree, noting that the footage simply should have been produced as requested.
DUI: The Evidence Matters
As Moravec’s case shows, evidence and proper procedure does matter in a DUI case, and so does having the right legal representation. It was ultimately the timely request for the video footage by his legal team that helped him win his case.
DUI is a serious charge in Illinois, with serious potential penalties that include a permanent criminal record, jail time and fines. If you’ve been charged with DUI in the state, seek the help of an experienced Springfield IL criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so you have solid legal help on your side.