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COA denies Miranda rights appeal in drunken driving case

March 24, 2011

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court’s decision that a man arrested for drunken driving was not entitled to counsel or a Miranda warning when police asked for his consent to a blood draw because he was not being interrogated at the time.

Citing Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 761 (1966), the Indiana appeals court stated that in the case of Michael E. Cohee v. State of Indiana, No.89A01-1009-CR-472, Cohee’s chemical test would not be considered self-incriminating evidence protected under the Fifth Amendment.

The appeals court also cited Dalton v. State, 773 N.E.2d 332, 335 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), stating that a person who drives on Indiana’s roads has no right to consult with an attorney prior to deciding whether to submit to a chemical test under the Implied Consent law.
 
In April 2010, Richmond police stopped Cohee’s car for a broken tail light. The officer who initiated the traffic stop noted that Cohee smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, and subsequently arrested Cohee after he failed field sobriety tests.

Cohee argued that once police told him he was “under arrest,” he should have been read his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Citing that case, the appeals court ruled that although Cohee was technically in police custody, he was not the subject of interrogation, which Miranda defines as “express questioning and words or actions on the part of the police that the police know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect.”

 

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