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U.S. Supreme Court
BERKEMER v. MCCARTY, 468 U.S. 420 (1984)

  1. Cf. United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 221, n. 1 (1973); id., at 238, n. 2 (POWELL, J., concurring) (discussing the problem of determining if a traffic arrest was used as a pretext to legitimate a warrantless search for narcotics).
  2. Cf. New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S., at 663-664 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring in judgement in part and dissenting in part).
  3. See Brief for State of Ohio as Amicus Curiae 18-21 (discussing the "National Epidemic Of Impaired Drivers" and the importance of stemming it); cf. South Dakota v. Neville, 459 U.S. 553, 558-559 (1983); Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 657, 672 (1971) (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).
  4. See Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 299, 301 (1980); Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 445-458 (1966).
  5. Minnesota v. Murphy, 465 U.S. 420, 430 (1984) (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, supra, at 467); see Estelle v. Smith, 451 U.S. 454, 467 (1981); United States v. Washington, 431 U.S. 181, 187, n. 5 (1977).
  6. Cf. Developments in the Law — Confessions, 79 Harv. L. Rev. 935, 954-984 (1966) (describing the difficulties encountered by state and federal courts, during the period preceding the decision in Miranda, in trying to distinguish voluntary from involuntary confessions). We do not suggest that compliance with Miranda conclusively establishes the voluntariness of a subsequent confession. But cases in which a defendant can make a colorable argument that a self-incriminating statement was "compelled" despite the fact that the law enforcement authorities adhered to the dictates of Miranda are rare.
  7. The parties urge us to answer two questions concerning the precise scope of the safeguards required in circumstances of the sort involved in this case. First, we are asked to consider what a State must do in order to demonstrate that a suspect who might have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when subjected to custodial interrogation nevertheless understood and freely waived his constitutional rights. Second, it is suggested that we decide whether an indigent suspect has a right, under the Fifth Amendment, to have an attorney appointed to advise him regarding his responses to custodial interrogation when the alleged offense about which he is being questioned is sufficiently minor that he would not have a right, under the Sixth Amendment, to the assistance of appointed counsel at trial, see Scott v. Illinois, 440 U.S. 367 (1979). We prefer to defer resolution of such matters to a case in which law enforcement authorities have at least attempted to inform the suspect of rights to which he is indisputably entitled.
  8. In his brief, respondent hesitates to embrace this proposition fully, advocating instead a more limited rule under which questioning of a suspect detained pursuant to a traffic stop would be deemed "custodial interrogation" if and only if the police officer had probable cause to arrest the motorist for a crime. See Brief for Respondent 39-40, 46. This ostensibly more modest proposal has little to recommend it. The threat to a citizen's Fifth Amendment rights that Miranda was designed to neutralize has little to do with the strength of an interrogating officer's suspicions. And, by requiring a policeman conversing with a motorist constantly to monitor the information available to him to determine when it becomes sufficient to establish probable cause, the rule proposed by respondent would be extremely difficult to administer. Accordingly, we confine our attention below to respondent's stronger argument: that all traffic stops are subject to the dictates of Miranda.
  9. It might be argued that, insofar as the Court of Appeals expressly held inadmissible only the statements made by respondent after his formal arrest, and respondent has not filed a cross-petition, respondent is disentitled at this juncture to assert that Miranda warnings must be given to a detained motorist who has not been arrested. See, e. g., United States v. Reliable Transfer Co., 421 U.S. 397, 401, n. 2 (1975). However, three considerations, in combination, prompt us to consider the question highlighted by respondent. First, as indicated above, the Court of Appeals' judgement regarding the time at which Miranda became applicable is ambiguous; some of the court's statements cast doubt upon the admissibility of respondent's prearrest statements. See (supra) , at 425-426. Without undue strain, the position taken by respondent before this Court thus might be characterized as an argument in support of the judgement below, which respondent is entitled to make. Second, the relevance of Miranda to the questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to a traffic stop is an issue that plainly warrants our attention, and with regard to which the lower courts are in need of guidance. Third and perhaps most importantly, both parties have briefed and argued the question. Under these circumstances, we decline to interpret and apply strictly the rule that we will not address an argument advanced by a respondent that would enlarge his rights under a judgment, unless he has filed a cross-petition for certiorari.
  10. Examples of similar provisions in other States are: Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-622, 28-622.01 (1976 and Supp. 1983-1984); Cal. Veh. Code Ann. §§ 2800, 2800.1 (West Supp. 1984); Del. Code Ann., Tit. 21, § 4103 (1979); Fla. Stat. § 316.1935 (Supp. 1984); Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 95 1/2, para. 11-204 (1983); N. Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1102 (McKinney Supp. 1983-1984); Nev. Rev. Stat. § 484.348(1) (1983); 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3733(a) (1977); Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61.020 (1983).
  11. Indeed, petitioner frankly admits that " reasonable person would feel that he was free to ignore the visible and audible signal of a traffic safety enforcement officer. . . . Moreover, it is nothing short of sophistic to state that a motorist ordered by a police officer to step out of his vehicle would reasonabl or prudently believe that he was at liberty to ignore that command." Brief for Petitioner 16-17.
  12. State laws governing when a motorist detained pursuant to a traffic stop may or must be issued a citation instead of taken into custody vary significantly, see Y. Kamisar, W. LaFave, & J. Israel, Modern Criminal Procedure 402, n. a (5th ed. 1980), but no State requires that a detained motorist be arrested unless he is accused of a specified serious crime, refuses to promise to appear in court, or demands to be taken before a magistrate. For a representative sample of these provisions, see Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-1053, 28-1054 (1976); Ga. Code Ann. § 40-13-53 (Supp. 1983); Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 8-2105, 8-2106 (1982); Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 484.793, 484.795, 484.797, 484.799, 484.805 (1983); Ore. Rev. Stat. § 484.353 (1983); S. D. Codified Laws § 32-33-2 (Supp. 1983); Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann., Art. 6701d, §§ 147, 148 (Vernon 1977); Va. Code § 46.1-178 (Supp. 1983). Cf. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, Uniform Vehicle Code and Model Traffic Ordinance §§ 16-203 — 16-206 (Supp. 1979) (advocating mandatory release on citation of all drivers except those charged with specified offenses, those who fail to furnish satisfactory self-identification, and those as to whom the officer has "reasonable and probable grounds to believe . . . will disregard a written promise to appear in court").
  13. The brevity and spontaneity of an ordinary traffic stop also reduces the danger that the driver through subterfuge will be made to incriminate himself. One of the investigative techniques that Miranda was designed to guard against was the use by police of various kinds of trickery — such as "Mutt and Jeff" routines — to elicit confessions from suspects. See 384 U.S., at 448-455. A police officer who stops a suspect on the highway has little chance to develop or implement a plan of this sort. Cf. LaFave, "Street Encounters" and the Constitution: Terry, Sibron, Peters, and Beyond, 67 Mich. L. Rev. 39, 99 (1968).
  14. See Orozco v. Texas, 394 U.S. 324, 325 (1969) (suspect arrested and questioned in his bedroom by four police officers); Mathis v. United States, 391 U.S. 1, 2-3 (1968) (defendant questioned by a Government agent while in jail).
  15. No more is implied by this analogy than that most traffic stops resemble, in duration and atmosphere, the kind of brief detention authorized in Terry. We of course do not suggest that a traffic stop supported by probable cause may not exceed the bounds set by the Fourth Amendment on the scope of a Terry stop.
  16. Nothing in this opinion is intended to refine the constraints imposed by the Fourth Amendment on the duration of such detentions. Cf. Sharpe v. United States, 712 F.2d 65 (CA4 1983), cert. granted, 467 U.S. 1250 (1984).
  17. Cf. Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 148 (1972).
  18. Cf. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S., at 34 (WHITE, J., concurring).
  19. Contrast the minor burdens on law enforcement and significant protection of citizens' rights effected by our holding that Miranda governs custodial interrogation of persons accused of misdemeanor traffic offenses. See (supra) , at 432-434.
  20. Cf. Commonwealth v. Meyer, 488 Pa., at 301, 307, 412 A. 2d, at 518-519, 522 (driver who was detained for over one-half hour, part of the time in a patrol car, held to have been in custody for the purposes of Miranda by the time he was questioned concerning the circumstances of an accident).
  21. Cf. Beckwith v. United States, 425 U.S. 341, 346-347 (1976) ("'It was the compulsive aspect of custodial interrogation, and not the strength or content of the government's suspicions at the time the questioning was conducted, which led the Court to impose the Miranda requirements with regard to custodial questioning'") (quoting United States v. Caiello, 420 F.2d 471, 473 (CA2 1969)); People v. P., 21 N. Y. 2d 1, 9-10, 233 N. E. 2d 255, 260 (1967) (an objective, reasonable-man test is appropriate because, unlike a subjective test, it "is not solely dependent either on the self-serving declarations of the police officers or the defendant nor does it place upon the police the burden of anticipating the frailties or idiosyncracies of every person whom they question").
  22. Cf. United States v. Schultz, 442 F.Supp., at 180 (suspect who was stopped for erratic driving, subjected to persistent questioning in the squad car about drinking alcohol and smoking marihuana, and denied permission to contact his mother held to have been in custody for the purposes of Miranda by the time he confessed to possession of a sawed-off shotgun).
  23. Judge Wellford, dissenting in the Court of Appeals, did address the issue of harmless error, see n. 6, (supra) , but without the benefit of briefing by the parties. The majority of the panel of the Court of Appeals did not consider the question.
  24. Nor did petitioner mention harmless error in his petition to this Court. Absent unusual circumstances, cf. n. 23, (supra) , we are chary of considering issues not presented in petitions for certiorari. See this Court's Rule 21.1(a) ("Only the questions set forth in the petition or fairly included therein will be considered by the Court").
  25. This case is thus not comparable to Milton v. Wainwright, 407 U.S. 371 (1972), in which a confession presumed to be inadmissible contained no information not already provided by three admissible confessions. See id., at 375-376.
  26. Because we do not rule that the trial court's error was harmless, we need not decide whether harmless-error analysis is even applicable to a case of this sort.
  27. Under Ohio law, respondent had a right to pursue such a course. See n. 2, (supra) .
  28. Indeed, respondent points out that he told Trooper Williams of these ailments at the time of his arrest, and their existence was duly noted in the Alcohol Influence Report. See App. 2.