Top 10 DUI Decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court

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Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by DALA Staff Writer

Given below are some of the cases dealing with drunken driving issues and their landmark judgments. Detailed explanations of the case laws are presented with the clarity in the case and decision.

DUI Case 1: Pennsylvania v. Muniz

Case: A drunken driver was subjected to field sobriety test (FST) that also involved tests that would verify the sanity and clarity of his mental health. Questions about the date of one’s birthday were posed to the accused on the pretext of sobriety test being conducted.

Decision: The Supreme Court declared that any test pertaining to testing of mental sharpness of a person is invalid in a trial if it has been conducted without giving Miranda Warning to the accused. It insisted and differentiated between testing how a person speaks than what he spoke.

Presumption: The decision in Muniz case is applicable in such drunken driving cases where mental stability tests are conducted without previously informing the accused.

DUI Case 2: Gideon v. Wainwright

Case: The defendant in a criminal case charged with felony was refused appointment of legal counsel in his favor citing that the state law allowed such appointments only in capital cases. This was done inspite of the defendants request for appointment as it was not affordable. The defendant lost his case and was convicted.

Decision: The court said the right to counsel was far more essential in criminal courts and the law through the fourteenth amendment made it applicable even to states and not just federal courts.

Presumption: It is presumed that in the US right to counsel is considered fundamental and essential for a fair trial.

DUI Case 3: Crawford v. Washington

Case: The accused was charged with the crime of stabbing another man who raped his wife. A tape recording was presented to the jury where he could hear the woman describing the incident. The trial court accepted the evidence as reliable. The accused objected and requested for cross examining the witness.

Decision: The Supreme Court upheld the objection of the accused as it was a violation of the US Constitution of right to confrontation.

Presumption: This decision overrules the courts decision in Ohio Vs Roberts and said that reliability cannot be substituted for the right of confrontation. This has specific importance in DUI cases where judges introduce police evidence in the place of police personnel themselves.

DUI Case 4: Brady v. Maryland

Case: In the course of trial, the prosecution destroys evidence in bad faith

Decision: A landmark decision requiring the prosecution any material evidence in support of the case.

Presumption: Any evidence pertaining to the case should be produced even though not clearly evidencing guilt, at least potential evidence.

DUI Case 5: Kumho Tire v. Carmichae

Case: In this case the trial judge excluded expert opinion because he found it unreliable and on the pretext that Federal Rules of Evidence 702 was applicable only for scientific, technical or specialized knowledge opinion.

Decision: It was held that the Rule 702 was applicable for all expert opinions and not restricted to a selected few

Presumption: This decision applies to DUI cases where the courts would limit the expert opinion to police officers on non scientific field sobriety tests.

DUI Case 6: Bell v Burson

Case: The government considered driving license a privilege than a right, providing the accused a chance to contest the suspension of license.

Decision: The courts decision said that license becomes an essential requirement due to its continuous usage. And hence cannot be taken away without a procedure.

Presumption: It is because of the judgment in this case that the department of motor vehicles allows hearing against drunken driving license suspension.

DUI Case 7: Schmerber v. California

Case: Blood samples were withdrawn from the accused while he was under a treatment for injuries, inspite of objections. The case was whether there was a violation of his privilege?

Decision: The courts decided that there was no violation and that it applies only to oral and written communications and to testimony and not for samples.

Presumption: Where sample tests are conducted under humanitarian and medically accepted principles it does not amount to violation eve if it is objected.

DUI Case 8: Miranda v. Arizona

Case: The case is about questioning of the accused after arresting without informing about his or her right to remain silent or hire legal help.

Decision: This is landmark judgment which carries the decision in the name of the case, where it is important to inform the accused of his right before interrogation.

Presumption: Any custodial interrogation should be preceded by Miranda Warnings.

DUI Case 9: Old Chief v. United States

Case: The defendant was accused of possessing a pistol as he had a prior felony record. Fearing the prejudice due to his prior conviction he admitted his previous conviction. But the prosecution did not view the cases separately.

Decision: It was held that the discretion is disturbed by taking into account the previous conviction.

Presumption: It is true in DUI felony cases where there is a second time offence the accused is automatically convicted.

DUI Case 10: Rochin v. California

Case: The accused had swallowed drugs to spoil the evidence. The police tried to prove the case by handling violent measures. The said incident is considered a violation of a right to due process.

Decision: The court held that any violent means is definitely prohibited

Presumption: It is seriously applicable in those DUI cases where the police even try to hit the accused for blood sample tests.

DALA Staff Writer
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