There is no doubt that state legislators and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are trying to make it tougher for those who decide to drink to the point of intoxication and then get behind the wheel of a car. The state senate has recently passed a bill that will require more people convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI) of intoxicating liquor or drunk to get a vehicle alcohol ignition interlock on their cars. This is a breath testing machine in which the driver must blow a clean sample before his or her car will start.
While the courts in our country do not generally advocate for a position, legal decisions can make it harder on certain individuals who get arrested, and things just got harder for those arrested for drunk driving in the Commonwealth. While this is already the law in many other states, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has just held that drunk driving suspects do not need to be read Miranda before they are given a breath alcohol test according to a recent news feature from the Boston Globe. As our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers can explain, when a person is in police custody, before they have been formally charged with a crime, the courts have determined their Sixth Amendment rights to counsel have not been yet established. What this means is that the police can gather certain evidence from a drunk driving suspect without that suspect having the right to an attorney.
If there is a drunk driving accident, and the victim or their family later wishes to file a drunk driving accident lawsuit in Boston, this evidence that the police gather during their investigation phase may be of great assistance to your lawyer when he or she is preparing your case. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you should speak with your attorney before giving a statement to the insurance company or even the prosecutor. While the alleged at-fault driver’s insurance company obviously doesn’t have your best interests at heart, the prosecutor is likely more focused on securing a conviction than whether or not you get a fair and appropriate financial compensation for your loss as result of any personal injury.
Another reason a person might be entitled to having Miranda warnings read to them prior to giving a breath sample is the Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination (PASI). This is where people take the Fifth, as they often say. The United States Supreme Court, however, has held on multiple occasions that police do not have to give warnings when a person is still in their car or even on the side of the road, because they are not considered as being in custody at this point, even though they are clearly not free to leave. The other reason the PASI would not apply to a breath test is because PASI is designed to protect you for making incriminating statements. Taking a breath test is not considered a statement, so that privilege does not apply.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
OUI suspects aren’t entitled to Miranda warning before breathalyzer, August 15, 2016, By John R. Ellement, Boston Globe
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Report: Drunk Driving Crash at Daytona International Speedway, April 9, 2016, Boston DUI Accident Lawyer Blog