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Berkemer v. McCarty - Miranda Warnings, The Questioning Of Mccarty, Were Mccarty's Rights Violated?

police traffic court stops


Harry J. Berkemer, Sheriff of Franklin Country, Ohio


Richard N. McCarty

Petitioner's Claim

That police officers need not provide Miranda warnings prior to misdemeanor interrogations either at roadside traffic stops, in a patrol car, or at a police station and that McCarty's statements made during questioning at the police station should be admissible.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Alan C. Travis

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

R. William Meeks

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall (writing for the Court), Sandra Day O'Connor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

2 July 1984


Police must inform people of their rights in accordance with the Miranda doctrine when formally arrested or vigorously questioned for any offense, including a misdemeanor traffic violation. The Court also held that the Miranda rule does not apply to routine questioning for a roadside traffic stop.


This case helped the U.S. Supreme Court determine more precisely when police officers must read motorists the Miranda warnings for traffic stops and violations. Whereas in United States v. Murray, the Court found that routine questioning pertaining to a traffic stop does not require the reading of the motorist's rights the Court ruled that police must inform motorists of their rights if they formally arrest them and take them into custody.

Related Cases

  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
  • Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

Further Readings

  • National Highway Safety Administration. Highway Safety Desk Book. Available from http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/enforce/deskbk.html.
  • Pagel, Briane F. "Maybe It's Better to Just Leave Earlier: Traffic Stops and Your Rights." The Badger Herald, 1996.
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