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Government & Politics

Ohio Supreme Court Says Miranda Warnings Are Not Required in All Interviews in a Police Cruiser

Maureen O'Connor

The Ohio Supreme Court today ruled in a Miranda rights case from Cleveland. The court says being questioned in the front seat of a police car is not the same as being interrogated while in custody.

In 2014, a Cleveland motorist nearly struck an Ohio State Highway Patrol car at night. The patrolman pulled him over, had him get in the front seat of the cruiser and asked how much alcohol he’d been drinking. The driver said he’d had four mixed drinks at a wedding.

At trial, he asked to have that information suppressed, because the patrolman had not read him his Miranda rights first. A Cleveland municipal court judge agreed.

But the Ohio Supreme Court overturned that decision 6-to-1. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote that the interaction did not amount to an in-custody interrogation, because the driver was asked only basic questions for a short period of time—and wasn’t handcuffed.

Justice William O’Neill dissented, writing that a reasonable person in the police car would not understand that they were free to leave.