The answer is maybe.

In Illinois, squad cars that are equipped with video are supposed to video your arrest. This protects both you and the police. It allows the court to see for itself whether you were really as impaired as the officer said or whether you were doing just fine.

But sometimes the video is lost or destroyed. What then?

In that case, the court may sanction the state as the court deems appropriate. In some cases, the court may bar the officer from testifying about any matters that would have been shown by the video. If the state cannot meet its burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt without the officer’s testimony, you could be acquitted.

In other cases, however, the court may simply decide that you met the initial burden of proof when challenging the Secretary of State’s automatic suspension of your driver’s license. In a recent Illinois decision, People v Acevedo, the defendant petitioned to overturn the suspension (known as the statutory summary suspension). The defendant had to show that the officer lacked probable cause to believe he was driving under the influence. The court allowed the officer to testify, but held that the defendant had met this initial burden of proof. The burden of proof then passed to the state to show that the officer had probable cause for the stop. Unfortunately, due to the officer’s testimony, the defendant ultimately lost his petition.

Courts have declined to sanction the state where the officer failed to turn on the video or had the defendant perform field sobriety tests outside of the camera’s view.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If video is lost or destroyed, an attorney may be able to petition the court to sanction the state. In limited circumstances, this could result in a verdict of not guilty.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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