Does there have to be video evidence in a traffic stop?

Q: I let my friend use my jeep and he does not have a license. He and a licensed driver switched seats before the police were able to get behind the jeep. The officer says he saw the switch. There is no video evidence it. It is two people’s word against the police officer. Is there any hope of fighting the ticket and winning?

A: In most states there does not have to be video in order for probable cause to be supported or an arrest to be legal. Some progressive departments routinely use it and I understand even a few have a policy in place. Unless this police department routinely uses video in traffic stops or has a policy to do so, and for some unexplained reason, this officer did not use the camera, the officer’s word may likely be believed over your friends, by a judge or jury. However, if your attorney can establish other evidence through skillful cross examination, for example, the officer wasn’t in position to make the observation, there are discrepancies in the police report, etc., who knows, your friend may be able to establish reasonable doubt.  He should review this situation with an attorney. One thing you need to be aware of is that you can be cited for lending an automobile to someone who you know does not have a valid license. You therefore should not make any statements to the police.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.