How to Use a Public Disclosure Request in a DUI Case
When I was a younger DUI lawyer, anytime I wanted to request a document, training manual, police videos, in any case I use to submit a subpoena to a estimate for their identifying characteristics, I would then give a copy of that subpoena to the Prosecutor and I would serve the subpoena on in any case the applicable agency was. This was time consuming, generally a pain to do, and almost always tipped off the Prosecution on the direction of my case.
Lately, however, I have been using a new method to request these documents. Its called the Public Disclosure Request. In Washington State where I am licensed to practice law this is codified in Revised Code of Washington 42.56. Although these basic principles of what to request and how to do it can be applied in any jurisdiction that allows the public to request such things.
In your basic DUI case, whether it’s a breath test or blood test, there are certain things to need to be preserved in order to conduct a thorough investigation of the case. Often times a DUI charge does not get filed right away, so unless certain items are preserved they will be destroyed by the time the Prosecution gets around to filing the DUI charge. Depending in the jurisdiction there are 3 typical items I will request by the Public Disclosure Act.
First would be any audio/video recordings involving my client. This can include but is not limited in-car videos, BAC room videos, lobby videos, etc. In DUI situations it usually comes down to your clients information versus the cops. If you’re able to get your hands on any discovery that records the incident, you can truly see what happened. However the recycle times in this discovery is fairly quick. So this request needs to be made once the client signs the fee agreement.
Secondly, would be any arrest reports or police narratives from the Officers or Troopers involved in the arrest. Often times when you get an Officer is deals with a high quantity of DUI arrests, it’s only natural for them to cut corners to save time. This can include cutting and copying from prior reports. When a request of any prior DUI arrest reports is made it will show whether or not the officer does this.
Lastly, I like to request any and all maintenance records for the breath test machine, or any blood test samples to be later tested. If the machine was not functioning correctly, or there have been problems with it in the past then I want to know. Likewise if a blood test was done its important to preserve any and everything that was involved in the taking of the sample.
Keep in mind this is just a few items that I typically request in a DUI case. clearly depending on the facts and/or witnesses involved there may be extensive requests made. However in your typical DUI case this will get you started.