Today's topic of discussion concerns OUIs, and specifically the issue of Miranda and how that plays into any statements that may or may not be suppressed if your rights have been violated under the Federal or State constitution of Maine. Often times, I have clients say to me, “Bill, I wasn't Mirandized.” Well, my answer in return is, “You don't have to be Mirandized unless, one, you are in custody and two, the questions that are asked of you that are designed to elicit self-incriminating evidence.” So, for example, if the officer says, “Johnny, what is your date of birth?” And obviously you've already been arrested and you are in the booking process and you blurt out, “Man, I am so drunk I couldn't tell you my birth date right now.” That issue is actually not suppressible because all the officer is doing is asking for is your biographical information. He did not ask that question to elicit a self-incriminating answer even though you blurted out an answer that is clearly self-incriminating.
Now, what happens when the officer first approaches your car and says, “License and registration,” smells alcohol on your breath and says, “Have you been drinking?” Does that in and of itself trigger Miranda? Generally, no. While that answer is clearly designed to elicit self-incriminating information, you are not yet in custody. While the roadside stop is a seizure, under the law it is not tantamount to an arrest or custody. Therefore, any information you give to law enforcement at the very beginning of that investigation will not be suppressed as there was no violation of your constitutional rights.
Finally, keep in mind that only the government can violate your constitutional rights. If a citizen violates your constitutional rights, there is no remedy for that violation. For example, if a citizen reports your car as driving drunk and LIES about what he/she sees and the police reasonably rely on that information, the stop is still good. That's because a remedy for violation of your constitutional rights is only available when the government or a person/entity acting on behalf of the government violates your rights.
If you have any questions or you have been arrested for an OUI, please call my office. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.