Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Pulled Over for DUI/DWI--What About Miranda Rights?

Guest blogger: Jose Ceja

I was pulled over for driving under the influence but the police officer did not read me my Miranda rights, what can I do?

Given the inherent dangers of drunk and drugged driving, DUI and DWI laws are strictly enforced in every state in the U.S. The fact that you have been arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated doesn’t mean that you will automatically be convicted, however. There are viable defenses against DUI/DWI and individuals being arrested have legally protected rights.

Basically, an arresting officer must read a driver stopped for DUI/DWI his or her Miranda Rights:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

Miranda Rights were first established in the landmark Supreme Court ruling Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The effect of this ruling is that law enforcement officers must recite these rights to an individual being arrested before interrogating the person or asking about the crime. Moreover, law enforcement cannot interrogate an individual who does not wish to answer any questions. If an individual decides to stop speaking to the police at any point and asks to speak with an attorney, the police must end the questioning immediately.

In short, if the police did not read you your Miranda Rights after a DUI arrest, an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to get the case dismissed. Whether this is a valid defense option depends on the circumstances of the arrest, however.

When are Miranda Rights required?

Although Miranda Rights must always be read for DUI arrests, these rights only apply after the individual has actually been arrested and informed about the reason for the arrest. Miranda rights do not apply if the individual is questioned before an arrest has occurred. In a typical DUI/DWI traffic stop, however, the police will ask routine questions, like the driver’s name, date of birth, and also request his or her license, registration and insurance card.

During this time, the police are not required to recite the Miranda Rights. The police will also likely ask “have you been drinking tonight?” during their routine questioning to induce the driver to admit to drinking and driving or to detect intoxication of the driver. These questions are investigational, however, and a driver is not required to answer such questions.

Nonetheless, many individuals are not fully aware of their Miranda Rights, or when those rights apply during a DUI/DWI traffic stop. So it is not uncommon for a driver to say something like “I only had one or two beers” which is incriminating and can be used as the basis for an arrest. The fact that the police officer did not inform the driver of his or her Miranda Rights does not mean the case will be dismissed. 

The Takeaway

In sum, during a DUI/DWI arrest, you must be informed of your rights. Whether your DUI/DWI case will be dismissed due to a Miranda violation, however, hinges on when the officer began the questioning. If all the questioning took place before the arrest was actually made, anything you may have said can be used against you during your DUI/DWI case. If the police failed to read you your Miranda Rights at any time, on the other hand, then it may be possible to get the DUI/DWI case dismissed.

With this in mind, it is crucial to consult an experienced DUI/DWI defense attorney if you have been arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. Your attorney will be able to conduct a thorough investigation, which includes obtaining and reviewing the police report and any other evidence such as video from a body camera, to determine if/when your Miranda Rights were violated. Even if the case is not dismissed for a Miranda violation, your attorney can also look to other defense options, such as questioning the accuracy of a breathalyzer test or any field sobriety tests that the police may have administered.

In the end, don’t drink and drive because driving under the influence places you and others at risk of serious injury or death. If you have been charged with DUI/DWI, the best decision you can make to protect your rights, and your driving privileges, is to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney.

Jose Ceja is lead attorney at Ceja Law Firm

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