Can A Judge Admit a Police Report into Evidence in a DUI Trial?

No. A police officer’s report or an accident report may not be used as evidence in any trial of the DUI arrest or accident, whether criminal or civil. In one recent appellate case the court upheld the decision where the judge properly refused to admit into evidence either entire accident report or diagram of accident contained in report. The reason for this prohibition is that if the accident report were introduced into evidence, there is a danger that the jury would consider it to be “official,” and give it more weight than that to which it fairly is entitled. The officer who made the report may use it to refresh his or her recollection. The defendant’s attorney may cross-examine the officer concerning the report and, if the officer’s statements in court are in conflict with the statements in the report, the defendant may impeach the officer. The defendant or his attorney may ask the officer whether a fact stated in the report is true, and may inquire whether the officer asked a witness certain questions. See Evidence Code §771(b) If, after reading the report, the officer has no full and accurate memory of the incident, the officer is required to read into evidence the statements, otherwise admissible, directly from the report.

A Kern County Judge may also permit the officer to read into evidence as a past recollection recorded the statement of a witness contained in the report that was inconsistent with the witness’s testimony at trial.  If a defendant pleads guilty to a DUI or other Vehicle Code violation, the Court, in a DUI trial,  may not receive or consider any written or verbal report of any police or traffic officer, or of any witness of the offense, at any time before pronouncing sentence without fully informing the defendant of all statements in the report and giving the defendant an opportunity to answer the report or produce rebuttal witnesses.

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