DUI Suspects Lose Their Miranda Rights in Massachusetts

August 17, 2016

Police do not have to give a Miranda warning to suspected drunk drivers before they take a breathalyzer test, the state’s highest court ruled Monday in a decision that left intact a 27-year-old legal precedent.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that the chemical breath test is not a “critical part” of the criminal investigation of a suspected drunk driver and, as such, does not trigger the protections against self-incrimination enshrined in the state and federal constitutions.

The court left intact the legal precedent in effect since a 1989 SJC ruling known as Commonwealth v. Brazelton. In that ruling, the SJC said asking a driver to take a chemical breath test did not trigger self-incrimination concerns, and police did not have to provide Miranda warnings.

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