When is an Officer Incompetent to Testify in a DUI Case?

In Ohio, every person is deemed competent to testify.  However, there are some exceptions.  A police officer is not competent to testify if,

while on duty for the exclusive or main purpose of enforcing traffic laws, arresting or assisting in the arrest of a person charged with a traffic violation punishable as a misdemeanor where the officer at the time of the arrest was not using a properly marked motor vehicle as defined by statute or was not wearing a legally distinctive uniform as defined by statute.

Ohio Rule of Evidence 601(C).

In other words, an officer is precluded from testifying in a misdemeanor DUI case only when (1) the officer is “on duty” (2) exclusively for enforcing traffic laws (3) without a distinctive uniform or driving an unmarked car.

Unfortunately, this rule rarely precludes officers in the Columbus area from testifying in drunk driving cases.  This is because most police departments in central Ohio have learned that if their officers are going to make arrests for DUI, they need to wear their standard uniform and drive a marked patrol car.

While most officers are going to be competent to testify, an experienced Columbus DUI Lawyer knows that this can be one more tool in his toolbox in defending a DUI case.

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