Lost Dashcam Videos Could Impact Tennessee DUI Cases

The Metro Police in Nashville use 12 special vehicles for targeted patrols that have a dashboard camera to record arrests. The video evidence is downloaded from hard drives in the vehicles to the police department server. In late May a software update by a third-party vendor caused the loss of about 1300 videos made during aggressive driving and Tennessee DWI traffic stops.

The system is maintained by ICOP Digital in Kansas, and the company can remote access the server for upgrades. Bad code changed certain settings on the server and led to the loss of 1600 videos, and their back-up, from arrests made between October and April. ICOP was able to recover 200 files and the police department salvaged 100 more. The loss of the videos has led to prosecutors to begin dropping charges of driving under the influence in Tennessee from court dockets. An Assistant District Attorney says that the lack of evidence definitely hurts the prosecution of cases. A Metro police spokesperson says the department is “pretty incensed”.

Nashville DUI defense attorney Tommy Overton says that the situation could impact defendants too. Sometimes the video shows the driver does not appear to be impaired, and without the contrary evidence the jury may place more weight on the police officer’s testimony.

Metro police have six specially equipped squad cars for TN DUI patrols, four for cracking down on aggressive driving and two used by a deadly accident team. The $100,000 system has been in place since late 2008. The department has begun looking into alternative systems where files cannot be deleted, including one that burns images to DVDs.

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