Law Office of Michael L. Fell
900 Roosevelt Irvine, CA 92620
(949) 585-9055

Do You Need to Contest a Ticket from the California Highway Patrol? Learn How to Get a Copy of the MVARS

The California Highway Patrol recently issued a citation for careless driving against you (CHP). Right now, you wish to dispute the ticket. According to the CHP officer who issued you a ticket, he observed you on the mobile video audio recording system (MVARS) in the patrol car. Are copies of the MVARS video available?

Yes, most certainly. According to the California Public Records Act (CPRA), MVARS footage is a "public record". Therefore, if you contact the CHP Area office closest to you with a public records request, you should be able to get a copy of the MVARS footage. Keep reading to learn how to do so or contact a criminal defense attorney who can help by calling Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055.

How to request MVARS footage

Typically, MVARS footage requests must be made in writing and include the following details: the date of the video, the location of the incident, and why it was recorded on video. Keep in mind that if you're the target of a criminal investigation, you or your lawyer may also ask the district attorney for an MVARS recording as part of the discovery procedure.

Dash cams are generally the equipment involved

A "dash cam" is a common name for an MVARS equipment. Some law enforcement organizations in California utilize a tiny camera that is attached to the dashboard of a patrol car or patrol vehicle to record the following: citations and incidents that precede arrests.

How long will it take for your request to be processed?

According to the California Public Records Act, an organization is required to respond to a request for public records within 10 days of receiving it. However, keep in mind that this 10-day window is not a deadline pertaining to when you must get the information by – but only when you must receive a response. The CHP website states that processing your MVARS request may take longer than 10 days.

The website clearly states that reviewing a request and looking through relevant documents may take a "reasonable period of time." After 10 days, if you still haven't received your MVARS video, you can approach the CHP for an update.

Is the CHP required to always offer MVARS recordings?

No, the CHP has the right to refuse your request for MVARS footage if it contains sensitive or exempt information. What is "exempt or sensitive material”? It could include personal identification numbers of the persons involved or unaffiliated third parties, demonstrations of specialist safety and enforcement techniques for peace officers, information that should not be disclosed about a law enforcement official, and images, comments, or recordings that are obscene, upsetting, or intrusive.

Be aware that the CHP has the authority to refuse your request if the requested footage is connected to a current CHP investigation or a similar one, or if the safety of a person involved in the investigation would be endangered by the dissemination of the video.

The best way to handle a DUI charge or other similar charge is to work with a defense attorney who can fight for your rights. You can reach Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 now to request a free legal consultation.