Banner for The Criminal Justice Systems: A Guide for Law Enforcement Officers and Expert Witnesses in Impaired Driving Cases

Law Enforcement Testimony

PRACTICE POINT
USE CLEAR AND CONVINCING LANGUAGE

Field notes are only as good as the information they contain. Reports must be clearly written and events accurately described if the reports are to have evidentiary value. One persistent problem with DWI incident reports is the use of vague language to describe conditions, events, and statements. When vague language is used, reports provide a murky picture of what happened. Clear and convincing field reports provide strong evidence in court.

Vague language

Clear language

Made an illegal left turn on Jefferson

From Main, turned left (northbound) onto Jefferson, which is one way southbound.

Drove erratically

Was weaving from side to side in his lane, and then he crossed center line twice and drove on right shoulder three times. All within two blocks.

Driver appeared drunk

Driver’s eyes bloodshot; watery; gaze fixed; hands shaking. Strong odor of alcoholic beverage on driver’s breath.

Vehicle stopped in unusual fashion

Vehicle struck, climbed curb; stopped on sidewalk.

Vehicle crossed the center line

Vehicle drifted completely into the opposing traffic lane.

Top