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Is your testimony as credible as the officers?

Many DUI arrestees are told that their account of what happened is not as trustworthy or credible as the sober arresting officers.  A recent Swedish study begs to differ.  It states:

"Eyewitness memory is a valuable source in investigations and it is common that the police interview alcohol intoxicated eyewitnesses. There are few studies on how alcohol affects witness memory. This study investigated how different doses of alcohol affected eyewitness recall one week after witnessing a crime and potential sex differences. The participants (N = 126) were healthy adults and were randomly assigned to either a control group, 0.0 g/kg ethanol (N = 42), a lower alcohol dose group, 0.4 g/kg ethanol (N = 40), or a higher alcohol dose group, 0.7 g/kg ethanol (N = 44).

After 15 minutes consumption in a laboratory, participants witnessed a film showing a kidnapping of a woman by two men. The witnesses were interviewed about the crime one week later in a sober state. Witnesses in the higher alcohol dose group recalled fewer details compared to witnesses in the lower alcohol dose group. The amount of alcohol consumed did not have an impact on accuracy. Women and men reached the same blood alcohol concentration and no sex differences were found in recall. Interestingly, although the witnesses in the high alcohol dose group reported less information, their testimony was as correct as the testimony given by witnesses in the control group and the lower alcohol dose group. Despite the interesting results, more studies are needed before recommendations to the legal system can be made."

As an attorney, I've always believed that my clients hold the keys to valuable information that can favorably impact the case.  While it is true that very high BACs can erase or limit memory, social drinking certainly does not (as shown by the above study).  Accordingly, your testimony has just as much bearing on the proceedings as the officers--if not more.  Officers are involved in many, many arrests and investigations and often have no independent memory of your incident.  That's why they write reports soon after the events (as should you).  On the flip side, this is often the one and only highly traumatic incident for the arrested person and the facts will be etched in his/her memory.   

 

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