There are nearly 100,000 DWI arrests in Texas in a given year, yet very few people know about a recent change in the law that allows them to request a copy of the videos relating to their arrest — even if a case hasn’t been filed against them yet. It is not uncommon for arresting agencies to wait for blood results before filing DWI cases with a prosecutor’s office and it can sometimes take months before the results come back.
Regardless of when the criminal case is filed, a person arrested for a DWI has a 15-day deadline to request an ALR hearing. A person may also want to review the video before the case is filed so they can write down things that were not captured on video — before they are forgotten.
In the past, drivers who wanted a copy of their DWI arrest video ran into legal roadblocks at every turn.
Now, obtaining a copy of your DWI arrest video may be as simple as going to the police department and requesting it. You don’t have to wait to be charged. You don’t need permission from a prosecutor or a judge. You don’t even need to have an attorney. Under a new law that was passed last year, the arresting agency is required to produce any and all videos of your stop, arrest, field sobriety tests or blood draw.
New Law Requires Police to Release DWI Arrest Videos
Before September 1, 2015, drivers arrested on an intoxication offense had an uphill climb if they wanted a copy of the video recording their arrest. The only way to try to get it was through an Open Records Request or through an attorney, who had to first seek prosecutorial permission or a court order to release the video to you.
In essence, the new law, which was passed during the 2015 legislative session as House Bill 3791, cuts out the middle man. It amended Chapter 2 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, allowing drivers arrested for suspicion of DWI to go straight to the source for arrest videos:
A person stopped or arrested on suspicion of an offense under Section 49.04 (Driving While Intoxicated), 49.045 (Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger), 49.07 (Intoxication Assault), or 49.08 (Intoxication Manslaughter), Penal Code, is entitled to receive from a law enforcement agency employing the peace officer who made the stop or arrest a copy of any video made by or at the direction of the officer that contains footage of: the stop, the arrest, the conduct of the person stopped during any interaction with the officer, including during the administration of a field sobriety test, and a procedure in which a specimen of the person’s breath or blood is taken.
So Exactly How Do I Request My DWI Arrest Video?
The request for your DWI arrest video should be made directly to the law enforcement agency that arrested you. To aid you in making your request, we have prepared a PDF form that you can use. You will need to contact the law enforcement agency that arrested you to get their mailing address, fax number, or contact person to whom the request should be made. Once you know the contact person for a given agency, you can help out other Texans by adding that information to the comments section below. If you’ve found this information to be useful, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and check our blog for regular updates about Texas law.
Click to download our fillable DWI Arrest Video Request PDF form.
Many law enforcement agencies may not be aware of the new law, but you shouldn’t take “no” for an answer. If the arresting agency fails to produce the electronic recording, it would be in your best interest to consult an attorney if you have not already done so. An attorney can seek an order to compel the agency to produce the video.