After a police officer arrests someone for a DUI they will write a police report. I've seen this called a police narrative, or incident report also. Basically it just documents the driving, documents the arrest, and provides any other relevant observations the police officer made regarding the interaction with the driver. Typically this report is 3 to 4 pages, and is sent to the Prosecutors office. Once the Prosecutors office receives the report they will determine whether or not to file criminal charges. If charges are filed then the police report is given to the Defense Attorney in the case.
Because of the redundancy in police reports, its important to have a system in place to review and analyze it to determine whether any legal issues exist. Obviously additional investigation needs to be done to fully investigate the case, but the initial review of the police report will most often give the DUI Attorney a direction in which to concentrate.
The system I use is very simple. Once I receive the police report I will sit down with a legal pad and write down 6 headlines. These are: Driving, Initial Contact, Statements, Exit, Field Sobriety Tests, Breath or Blood test (depending on the case). Now this is very similar to the topics I create when preparing a cross-examination for the arresting officer. So by knocking this out early on and identifying any legal issues in the report, I can easily transfer notes to the cross-examination or have an idea on how I want to structure the questions.
After I have written down the headlines, I start going through the police report. Lets take driving for example. I will write down what the basis for the stop was. What the police officer observed by the driving. Whether the driver was cited for any infractions. Whether there was an accident involved. Once I get the reason for the contact down, I will start to look for what the Officer didn't write down. If the driver was stopped for speeding, was there any weaving within the lane? Was there any crossing or swerving? Was there any erratic driving? Did the vehicle lawfully pull over? Did they use their blinker and come to a complete stop?
The idea is to look for every little thing the Officer didn't notice. Then decide whether based on all of that was there a lawful basis to initiate the stop. I continue to go through the report for each headline or topic, and always ask the same question. Was there enough to ask the driver to exit the vehicle based on the initial contact? Was there enough evidence to arrest the driver based on the driving, initial contact, and field sobriety tests?After I have thoroughly reviewed the report and identified any legal issues, I now have an idea about the direction I see this case going. Whether thats negotiation or litigation.
If you're charged with a Seattle DUI, dont wait to hire a Seattle DUI Attorney. Its of the utmost importance that your constitutional rights are protected by a DUI Lawyer.
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