Court Reverses OUI Conviction Based on State Trooper’s Conflicting Testimony

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Massachusetts OUI case requiring the court to determine if the lower court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the statements he made to the state trooper that had arrested him. Ultimately, the court concluded that the trooper’s testimony was conflicting regarding whether the defendant was given his Miranda warnings and whether the defendant indicated that he understood the warnings. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was pulled over by a state trooper for suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OUI). After the defendant was arrested, he told the trooper that he had consumed “two small bottles of red wine” and that he rated his intoxication as a “two” on a scale of one to ten. The defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements, arguing that his statements were taken without having been provided Miranda warnings.

Evidently, on direct examination at the motion hearing, the trooper testified that he provided the defendant with Miranda warnings and that the defendant indicated that he had understood those warnings. However, on cross-examination, the trooper contradicted himself, explaining that the defendant never told him he understood the Miranda rights, that he never waived those rights, and that he never agreed to talk to the trooper about the alleged offense.

After the motion testimony, the trial judge credited the officer’s testimony without resolving the apparent conflict. The defendant appealed.

The Court’s Analysis

The court began by explaining that once a defendant is arrested, they must be provided with their Miranda warnings. Only if a defendant indicates that they understand those warnings and agree to waive them can a police officer engage in the questioning of a defendant.

Here, the court held that the trooper’s inconsistent testimony did not establish that the defendant understood and knowingly waived his Miranda warnings when he spoke to the trooper. The court reasoned that it was not possible to determine which version of the facts offered by the trooper to credit based on the evidence presented. The court also held that, absent the defendant’s statements, the prosecution’s remaining evidence could not sustain a conviction. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and granted the defendant’s motion to suppress his statements.

Have You Been Arrested for a Boston OUI?

If you have recently been arrested for a Boston OUI, do not give up hope; there are countless ways to fight a Massachusetts drunk driving case. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a dedicated Boston criminal defense attorney with extensive experience representing clients in all types of OUI cases. Whether it involves litigating a motion to suppress statements or physical evidence, or attacking the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief at trial, Attorney Murphy is prepared to defend you every step of the way. To learn more, call 617-367-0450 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Court Finds Officers’ Search of Home Cannot Be Justified by Officer-Created Exigency, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published January 11, 2019

Judge Deems Questionable Breathalyzer Results Are Inadmissible, Resulting in the Dismissal of Thousands of Massachusetts DUI Cases, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published January 29, 2019

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