By: GA DUI Lawyer William C. Head
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident as a part of your DUI-DWI arrest, a police investigation of the accident likely exists. Either the officers at the scene, or a special team of police accident investigators, may have measured physical markings, ruts, or skid distances collected physical evidence at the scene, taken photographs or video footage, and may have performed a chemical or scientific analysis of certain items collected at the accident scene. A DUI accident reconstruction may be ordered by your DUI attorney to help win your case.
Whatever the police did, or if done by official representatives of the police or the crime lab, it is usually possible for your attorney to get copies of these investigative reports if it is not already part of the regular police report regarding your arrest for DUI-DWI. Furthermore, your attorney may be able to get this information under a F.O.I.A. request or Open Records Act demand.
Be aware that blindly relying on police measurements, photographs, interviews, and “conclusions” drawn from such physical evidence and witness statements falls short of being “independent.” Hiring your own accident reconstruction expert as soon as possible could mean the difference between acquittal and conviction.
At times, your attorney may have to file a motion asking your court to require the prosecution to provide your side with copies of these reports. If timely and properly requested and not provided by the prosecutor before trial, the court can exclude this non-disclosed information from being used against you. Additionally, if it is later discovered (after your conviction) that the prosecutor hid “exculpatory” (favorable) information that would have aided your attorney in the defense of your case, a motion for a new trial, motion in arrest of judgment or similar “post-conviction” filing may overturn your conviction.
When to Use a DUI Accident Reconstruction Expert
If your situation involved a motor vehicle accident, your attorney may recommend that you hire an accident reconstruction specialist. Such a witness will typically be most valuable to your case at the earliest possible date after the collision in order to document and measure any skid marks, existing obstructions of your view (such as hedges at an intersection) etc.
An accident reconstruction specialist will almost always have either police or engineering training (or both) that allows him or her to look at the report of your accident and apply engineering standards and other scientific principles (i.e., physics) to reconstruct or recreate what likely caused the accident.
These reconstruction experts may even be able to determine who was “at fault,” and other critical details such as the speed of the vehicles at the time of the accident, the braking pattern of all vehicles, or even identify the relative positions of passengers inside the vehicles prior to the collision. Sometimes these details make the difference between a guilty verdict and an acquittal, or a reduction from a felony vehicular homicide charge to a misdemeanor offense.
Your DUI-DWI attorney may suggest the use of a specific accident reconstruction specialist due to a number of factors. The attorney’s recommendation may be based on who is best for your particular type of accident, or possibly based on who might have the best courtroom presence at your trial, or who has the best credentials.
With experienced legal counsel, the choice of an expert on reconstruction ultimately might be determined by evaluating who best counters the proposed experts that the State has indicated that it will call upon to testify against you. Call 24 hours a day at (844) 832-6384 and learn more about how to beat a DUI charge in your State.