A common question that my clients ask about are the Miranda warnings. Recently, the United States Supreme Court decided a case that may affect DUI/OVI investigations. The case is Salinas v. Texas, which dealt primarily with the issue of protection against self-incrimination.
Before discussing Salinas, let’s understand Miranda v. Arizona, the case which created Miranda rights. This case is one of the most misunderstood in criminal law. The holding of this case was discussed in greater detail in a previous post. For purposes of this post, the holding of Miranda was this: if a person is questioned while in custody, the person’s statements cannot be used in court unless the police gave Miranda warnings. Miranda also means that the prosecutor cannot comment upon the person’s silence at trial.
Salinas v. Texas addressed whether the prosecution can comment on the defendant’s silence. Salinas was charged with murder, was questioned by law enforcement about the murder weapon, and remained silent during questioning. The prosecutor argued at trial that Salinas’ silence meant that Salinas had to be guilty because an innocent person would have answered the questions. Salinas was found guilty.
The Supreme Court held that the prosecutor’s comments regarding Salinas’ silence was appropriate. The Court found that Salinas was not in custody and was not given Miranda warnings. Since Salinas was not in custody, Miranda warnings were not required. Furthermore, Salinas voluntarily responded to police questioning about the murder, but remained silent in response to other questions.
The Court decided that a person in those circumstances must invoke his right to remain silent by explicitly communicating this to law enforcement. Remaining silent is insufficient to invoke this right.
So, what does this mean for Ohio DUI/OVI investigations? Drivers are often questioned by law enforcement when they are not in custody and not given Miranda warnings. After the traffic stop, law enforcement typically asks the driver several questions, including, “have you been drinking?”, “how much did you have to drink,” and “do you believe that you are under the influence of alcohol?” According to the Supreme Court in Salinas, if the driver remains silent, the prosecutor may use this silence against the driver in court. Only if the driver explicitly communicates his intent to remain silent and invoke his Fifth Amendment rights will the driver’s silence not be used as evidence at trial.
Thus, if you are pulled over for DUI/OVI in Ohio, you should consider explicitly informing the officer that you wish to remain silent. Furthermore, you should never submit to any field sobriety tests or the breathalyzer. Instead, contact an attorney immediately.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI/OVI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI/OVI in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI/OVI case.