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Breathalyzer Videotaping Program (From Innovations in South Carolina Law Enforcement, 1982, P 6-14 - See NCJ-92561)

NCJ Number
R L Vincent; J M Beason
Date Published
12 pages
The article outlines the procedures followed by the Greer Police Department (South Carolina) in implementing a program to videotape breathalyzer tests.
The program tried to intensify law enforcement efforts against drunken drivers and to provide convincing evidence of drunken behavior to juries reticent to convict drivers on the basis of breathalyzer evidence. A portable color video taping unit with VHS tape format was selected because of its versatility and installed in the breathalyzer room. Eight breathalyzer operators were trained; use of the VCR was restricted to Greer police officers. Equipment was adjusted to ensure accurate recording of other suspects' voices and support furnishings were removed from the breathalyzer room to permit accurate representation of suspects' activity. Suspects' behavior was taped whether or not they submitted to a breathalyzer test. The first 5 months of the program produced positive results. Patrol officers were more willing to arrest drunken drivers, and breathalyzer operators could review videotapes before going to refusal hearings. The number of guilty pleas for drunken driving increased, reducing the number of jury trials. The equipment was not once used for a jury trial, and the two bench trials in which it was used resulted in convictions. In addition, citizen awareness of the equipment is expected to deter persons who might drive under the influence. The system is cost effective, especially as other uses for the VCR, e.g., production of police training tapes, are planned. Photographs illustrate the breathalyzer room arrangement.