Can DUI Offenses Get Dropped If The Officer Doesn’t Show Up To Court?

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

If a police officer does not show up in court to provide testimony in a drinking and driving trial, the case may continue without his or her appearance. Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be a possibility of dismissal if the officer disobeys a court order and fails to show, but in many cases such appearance may not be necessary to begin with.

Over the last few decades, drinking and driving offenses in the United States have grown in terms of complexity and intricacy. These offenses, which are often referred to as Driving Under the Influence (DUI), are complex in the sense that they are often handled as felonies, traffic infraction and administrative offenses all at once.

In several jurisdictions, law enforcement officers who make arrests are required to make court appearances in cases involving a criminal offense if their testimony is crucial. To this effect, an example of a requirement to appear would be a police officer who caught a burglar breaking into a house while no other witnesses were around; in such a case, the outcome of the case hinges on the officer’s observations and actions, which should be disclosed and cross-examined in court.

In the criminal justice system, prosecutors can only obtain convictions when they can prove guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt. Modern DUI cases, however, often involve various officers, witnesses, Breathalyzer tests, field sobriety exercises, audio recordings, and even video. If the DUI stop was made at a roadblock, prosecutors will have a surfeit of evidence to prove guilt; the court may be in a position to waive the appearance of the arresting officer and allow the case to continue.

The decision to continue or dismiss a DUI trial due to a lack of court appearance by the arresting officer will be determined by the criminal procedure manual of each jurisdiction. However, skilled defense attorneys may be able to detect issues with evidence collection and arrest procedures that would merit the appearance of arresting officers beyond a deposition. Also, if an officer fails to appear because his or her credibility is questionable, this may open the door for a petition to dismiss or at least an opportunity to bargain with prosecutors.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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