Every DUI case will hinge on a wide range of evidence collected by law enforcement officers and the prosecution. Law enforcement officials will be collecting evidence against you, often before you are even arrested and charged. The evidence may range from video surveillance, witness statements, statements made at the time of the arrest, blood-alcohol tests, to field sobriety tests and evidence collected after your death. A recent Alabama case sheds light on another type of evidence that could be used against you in a DUI trial—black box evidence.
We often hear about black box evidence as it is used in commercial accidents—for example, in a plane crash or trucking accident. Now, more high-tech automobiles will also have a black box to record important information involving speed at the time of the crash. OurBirmingham DUI defense attorneys are experienced in the investigation and defense of clients accused of drunk driving. We are abreast of legal issues that impact these cases and technological advances that may be used as evidence in a DUI case.
Most often, black box evidence will be used in the event of a DUI accident. In a recent case, police investigators used data records or “black box evidence” to determine the speed of a vehicle seconds before a fatal 2012 drunk driving accident. The alleged drunk driver is on trial for murder and could face serious penalties, including an extended jail sentence for his alleged involvement. Police records indicate that the 32-year-old driver was in a collision with a 68-year-old driver in November of 2012. According to authorities, the alleged drunk driver T-boned the victim when he pulled out of the Publix parking lot.
The evidence in this case was submitted by an officer who testified that he retrieved event data recorders from the airbags of each vehicle. The black box evidence can be obtained from most cars that are currently manufactured. According to law enforcement officials, the black box evidence can provide information about speed, the use of brakes, seatbelts and steering just moments before an impact.
Black box evidence that is submitted in a drunk driving accident case should be reviewed and challenged by an experienced expert. In this case, law enforcement testified that the alleged drunk driver was traveling at 75.8 miles per hour in the seconds before the airbag deployed. The speed at the time of collision was 51 miles per hour, suggesting that the driver was able brake only a few seconds before the accident. The vehicle decelerated to 65.9, still over 20 miles per hour over the 45 mile per hour speed limit.
The victim of the accident suffered internal injuries and died a few hours later. The defense team for the alleged drunk driver requested a directed verdict to acquit the defendant of murder and assault charges. The judge has denied the motion. In addition to the black box evidence used in this case, officers will be testifying that there were beer cans in the vehicle, and that they smelled alcohol on the breath of the alleged drunk driver. Reports also indicate he may have been on his cell phone.
Any DUI case, especially one that involves an accident or injury, should be thoroughly reviewed and handled by an experienced drunk driving attorney.