Today the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the cases of Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S.Ct. 614 (2015); Bernard v. Minnesota, 136 S.Ct. 615 (2015); and Beylund v. Levi, 136 S.Ct. 614 (2015).
Leonard R. Stamm, along with Donald Ramsell and Jeff Green, co-authored an amicus brief filed on behalf of the National College for DUI Defense and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in these three cases on February 11, 2016.
The issue in the case was whether a state may make it a crime to refuse a warrantless breath test, or put differently to exercise one’s constitutional right to require the state to comply with the Fourth Amendment. Maryland has a sentencing enhancement of up to 60 days that may apply if a person is found by a judge or jury to have knowingly refused a test. The National Park Service, which controls a number of roads in Maryland, including the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, has a regulation, 36 CFR § 4.23(c) that makes it a crime to refuse a breath test, with a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. In both state and federal DUI cases, a suspect is told there is a possible jail sentence if he or she refuses to submit to a breath test. As a result, every breath test in state and federal court in Maryland is subject to a motion to suppress alleging that giving that advice is coercive and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.