Hobe Sound Man Arrested for DUI After Admitting to Police He Was Trying to “Drive it Off”

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

In the early morning hours of February 13, 2014, 61-year-old Michael Moore (no relation to the documentary film maker) was arrested for drinking and driving in Hobe Sound after being pulled over for speeding by a police officer.  That officer thought that Moore appeared drunk because he was slurring his speech and smelled of alcohol.  He called another Martin County officer to do a DUI investigation.  During the investigation, Moore allegedly told police that he had been drinking that night and had gotten into an argument with his wife over being too drunk.  His solution to the problem of being too drunk was to “drive it off”.  After failing field sobriety tests, Moore was arrested and took two breathalyzers at the police department where it showed his BAC was over the legal limit.

In a case such as this one, where an incriminating statement was made to police, many people do not quite understand the effect that a Miranda warning has on what can be used against them and the status of their case.  A Miranda warning is the statement that you hear on cop shows starting with “you have the right to remain silent”.  What many people believe is that unless this warning is given to them, they cannot be charged with a crime.  This is not the case.

Police can use incriminating statements that you make while they are investigating a potential crime even if they have not given you a Miranda warning.  What this means is that if you are pulled over but have not been officially detained, police can still use everything you say against you when you are brought to trial.  While statements made before a Miranda warning have a better chance of being thrown out, they can still be used against you.

Even if a statement that is made to police is thrown out, that does not necessarily mean that your case is dead.  Throwing out a statement affects only that statement and the evidence that comes from it.  This means if there is evidence against you besides those statements, such as breathalyzer results, those can still be used against you to gain a conviction. 

Except for some circumstances, you do have the right not to answer police questions at all times.  If you are pulled over under suspicion of drinking and driving, you have to give your name and other identifying information.  However, other questions such as how much you may have had to drink that night or where you are coming from or where you are going do not have to be answered.

In Moore’s case, even if the statements that he made about being drunk and “driving it off” are suppressed when he goes to court, there is still the possibility of a conviction.  Regardless of what he said, there was other evidence that showed that he might have been drunk such as smelling of alcohol and slurring his speech.  That, combined with failing a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer all occur regardless of what he said to officers and would remain in the evidence against him.