Violations of Miranda Rights In DUI Cases
Learn how Miranda warnings work in DUI cases.
First of all, what are Miranda rights?
Everybody has heard the term “Miranda” and most people are familiar with the refrain:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.
Once you are under arrest for DUI, the officer must read you these rights if they want to use any statement you make from the point of arrest forwards against you. If you are facing a DUI and you request a Miranda hearing, the prosecutor must prove that your Miranda rights were read to you properly, that you understood them, and that you waived them and answered the questions or made the statements:
In order to show that you understood and properly waived your Miranda rights in a DUI case, the state must show that you did so:
- Voluntarily; and
The time that you are placed under arrest is critical to a Miranda issue in a DUI case. This is because, the instant you are placed under arrest your Miranda rights apply. However, prior to arrest or the police officer forming probable cause to arrest for DUI, the officer need not give Miranda warnings and may freely ask questions.
For this reason, many DUI prosecutors have started to train DWI police officers to get as many incriminating answers as possible during the pre-arrest investigation phase. For example, if you are asked if you have been drinking when you are first stopped and you answer it, the answer will be admissible in court against you even if you later stand on your Miranda rights after you are formally arrested for DUI.
In DUI motions hearing that combine multiple issues, a skillful DUI defense lawyer can use one issue to gain an advantage in another. For example, in a case where reasonable suspicion and probable cause are issues along with Miranda, the officer will have to justify when he formed a reasonable belief that you were DUI.
As an example, if an officer waited to arrest you until after all the field sobriety tests were done, he will have a hard time claiming that he had probable cause before they were done (or else he should have arrested and Mirandized you, right?). Because of the competing concerns, it then becomes very possible for a skilled DUI defense lawyer to make the officer say that he didn’t form probable cause until after the last field test was done. This is especially problematic when the officer does the HGN (eye) test first, as it is widely considered to be the most reliable of the field sobriety tests.
On the other hand, if the police officer reads you Miranda warnings before the field tests, then it will be difficult to justify doing the tests after that. What purpose do they serve if the officer already had probable cause?
Why didn’t the officer read me my Miranda rights when I was handcuffed? Wasn’t I under arrest at that point?
You are under arrest when you are handcuffed. There is no doubt about that. However, some DUI police officers are trained NOT to read you Miranda right after arrest. This is perfectly legal under most circumstances.
The reason why prosecutors like police officers to delay giving Miranda is that in most states there is no right to talk with an attorney before deciding whether to take a breath or blood test. In this type of state, the odds of you cooperating and giving the officer the chemical test they want are must greater if you don’t “lawyer up” first. The reading of Miranda is designed to make people think about their rights, and if you consider your rights before you take the police officers chemical test, why would you cooperate and take it without first asking a DUI attorney?
Police officers know that once you are under arrest for DUI, they can’t ask you questions and then use your responses against you until they read you Miranda. More and more officers are not reading them directly after you give the chemical test. That way, you are more likely to talk because you have already given your blood, breath or urine (which is presumably going to be the most incriminating piece of evidence). You now see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe that if you simply cooperate and answer the officer’s questions you will be released. Some officers even imply or tell you this.
Are Miranda motions worth bringing?
The answer to this question will depend on the individual facts of your case. If there are any statements that are highly damaging to your case, then it probably makes sense to try to knock them out. As with any litigation, you never know what is going to happen until you try it.
Always decide whether to bring Miranda and any other motions together with retained local counsel who knows your case and is dedicated to serving your best interest.