Articles Posted in Police procedures

police-sirens-300x201By: Webb Law Intern Ronahn Clarke

OUI roadblocks are checkpoints where police officers stop every vehicle—or a certain number of vehicles at random—to search for intoxicated drivers. They appear more frequently around holidays.

 
Are OUI Roadblocks Constitutional?

IMG_1832x-286x300In Maine, your income makes no difference in how much your ticket will cost. The fine scale is predetermined and applies evenly to everyone, which seems reasonable. But is it really fair? That all depends on who you are and how much money you make. For some, a speeding ticket could be devastating and for others, it could be nothing more than a slight annoyance.

Lets say that you are driving on the interstate with a speed limit of 60MPH and you get a ticket for going 75MPH. The cost for this tickets will likely be around $200. According to datausa.io, the median household income in Maine is around $55,000 a year. That means that this ticket would be 4.36% of your household income for the month. This would perhaps be a difficult hit, but at the end of the day, would not be the end of the world. It would probably be a good incentive to be more careful and to drive slower in the future. This is exactly the hope of the law makers who set the fee scale for the ticket.

But now lets say that the NFL commissioner gets the same $200 ticket while he is at vacation house in Maine. His income, according to USA Today, is around $40,000,000 a year. That would mean the same ticket would be 0.006% of his monthly income. That type of punishment would be the equivalent of the person making $55,000 a year getting a ticket for around 28 Cents. Is there really any incentive there to follow the speed limit? There are other penalties such as possible license suspension that come with enough points on your license. But if your income is high enough, paying a driver a full time salary would be a realistic option. That is obviously not an alternative for the average Mainer.

police-search-768x512-1-300x200What is an illegal stop?

If the police illegally stop you, then there is a chance your case could be thrown out! The problem is that the police can stop you for so many things. In order for a stop to be legal, the police only need articulable suspicion that a crime or traffic infraction has occurred. That means the list of reasons the police can use to justify a stop is very long. You can be stopped for anything from improper tinted windows to driving one mile per hour over the speed limit.

Once you are stopped for any legal reason, if the officer finds more evidence of a totally different crime, such as an odor of alcohol or slurred speech, then the investigation can turn into something completely separate from the reason for the stop. You could be stopped for going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit and then it could turn into a drinking and driving investigation.

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Do Police Have to Read You Your Rights?

Police have an obligation to read you your Miranda warnings before conducting a custodial interrogation. An interrogation means that the questions are designed to elicit an incriminating response. Meaning, routine questions such as what your name is, your address, and your date of birth are not considered to be interrogative. However, arrests can occur without a reading of Miranda as long as no incriminating questions are being asked of you. But, if police choose to interrogate you at any time after arresting you, your rights must be read to you before any questioning occurs.

In addition to being interrogated, you also must be in police custody in order for the Miranda laws to apply. Custody means that your freedom of action must be deprived in some way. Maine courts have traditionally held that an interrogation is custodial if a reasonable person in your shoes would have felt that he or she was not at liberty to end the interrogation and leave. Being in custody may mean that you are in handcuffs, in a police cruiser, at the police station, or other similar scenarios where you are not free to leave at your own will. But ultimately, there are many factors that are considered by courts in determining whether you were truly in police custody, which is why consulting with an attorney can be important.

Police manipulate breath testing devices (breath alcohol machine) by controlling the way people blow into them. Usually, police officers tell a person taking an alcohol breath test to take a deep breath and to blow into the machine as long as possible. During the test the officers will encourage this by telling the test subject to “blow, blow, blow” until the person runs out of breath. The alcohol breath test results then produce a falsely high number.

The blow alcohol tester machines are designed to estimate your blood alcohol content or BAC by measuring your breath alcohol. To do this the machines must use certain assumptions about your temperature, blood particulate levels, and several other factors.

By far the most important factor is temperature. Henry’s Law says that the concentration of a substance contained in the gas found in the headspace over a liquid is directly proportional to the temperature at the point of exchange. In breath testing terms this means that the warmer your lungs are, the more alcohol will be in your breath, regardless of the concentration of alcohol in your blood.

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