Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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Corroboration of Confession in Drunk Driving Case

Recently I tried an interesting case in Cecil County. It was a drunk driving case. At trial the state was able to prove that the police officer came upon the defendant who was standing next to his demolished car off the side of the road late at night. The defendant admitted to driving. The defendant's breath test was .26 BAC which is more than three times the legal limit. That was the extent of their proof.

I argued to the judge that the state had failed to prove that the defendant was driving. A mere confession in Maryland is not enough to support a conviction. There must be some independent proof of the corpus delicti to corroborate the confession. I argued that the state could have proven that he was driving independently of his confession by providing the following corroborating evidence:

1. He had the car keys with him
2. The car was registered to him
3. He had injuries on him as a result of the accident

Any of those things would be some independent evidence that he was the driver of the car.

The judge took 3 min. of thinking quietly before stating that it was a close one but finding that my client had driven the car.

Despite the extremely high blood alcohol content and despite the fact that it was a car accident, my client did not suffer a conviction. He did not receive any points for the alcohol-related offense. He was given probation before judgment. My client is in a treatment program and it is my sincere hope that this will have been his only time drinking and driving.
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