Do Police Have to Read You Miranda Warnings During a DUI Arrest?

Most people are familiar with the Miranda warning, commonly referred to as Miranda rights. If they do not remember learning about the Fifth Amendment and the court case that established the Miranda warning in school, they have likely heard the warning read numerous times on television or in movies.

Unfortunately, Hollywood’s version of the Miranda warning is not accurate. It creates several misconceptions about when the police must read a person the Miranda warning. 

For example, many people would say that the police must read a person the Miranda warnings during a DUI arrest. If the officers failed to do so, it would violate the person’s civil rights. However, they would be wrong. 

Police offices are generally not required to read your Miranda rights to you while conducting a roadside DUI investigation or making a DUI arrest.

What is the Miranda Warning?

The Miranda warning is based on the civil rights created in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under the Fifth Amendment, a person has the right to due process of law and protection from double jeopardy. It also protects a person against self-incrimination. The rights apply in all criminal cases, including cases involving driving under the influence (DUI).

The term “Miranda” is taken from the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. In the Miranda case, the court ruled that a person must be advised of their Fifth Amendment rights in situations where these two conditions are met:

  1. The person is in custody and not free to leave, such as under arrest AND
  2. The police officers conduct a custodial interrogation.

The term “custodial” means post-arrest. An interrogation consists of questions designed to obtain incriminating information from the person’s responses. 

The Miranda warning is required when both conditions are met. Therefore, you can be arrested for DUI without being read your Miranda rights if the police do not intend to interrogate you after the arrest.

It is important to note that a person could be in custody without being under arrest, depending on the laws where the person was stopped for DUI. The test of whether the Miranda warnings apply is whether the person was “free to leave.” If a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe there were not free to leave the interrogation, the Miranda warning should apply. 

What Are the Exact Words That Police Officers Must Use to Give the Miranda Warning During a DUI Arrest?

The Supreme Court did not specify the exact words police officers must use when giving the Miranda warning. Police officers are only required to inform a suspect of his rights clearly. The officers are not required to read word-for-word the text of the Miranda case. They are only required to provide a warning that “fully conveys” to a suspect their rights.

A Miranda warning includes:

  • Your right to not answer questions or make statements (remain silent)
  • The fact that what you say can be used as evidence against you in court
  • Your right talk with an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning
  • The fact that the court can appoint an attorney to represent you if you cannot afford to hire an attorney

Once a suspect is warned of his right to remain silent and requests an attorney, the police must respect the suspect’s rights. 

In Miranda, the court made it clear that once a suspect indicates in any manner that they wish to remain silent, an interrogation must stop. Likewise, if a suspect indicates he wants to have an attorney present during interrogation, the questioning must stop until the suspect has had the chance to confer for an attorney. 

A police officer generally ends the Miranda warning by asking the person if they understand the rights as they have been explained to them. The officer may also ask the person if they wish to waive these rights and talk to the police officers.

A driver does not have to waive their Miranda rights. A driver may assert his Miranda rights at any time during an interrogation, even if the person has answered some questions.

Does a Police Officer Have to Read a Person Their Miranda Rights During a DUI Stop?

When a police officer stops you because he suspects you are driving under the influence, he conducts a DUI investigation. The investigation includes everything the officer does from the moment he pulls you over until he arrests you for driving under the influence. The purpose of the DUI investigation is to determine if the officer has probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Because you are not “in custody” at this point, the police officer is not required to issue a Miranda warning. The officer is not engaged in a custodial interrogation as defined under Miranda. He is only looking for signs of impairment that justify a DUI arrest.

During a DUI investigation, the police officer observes the driver for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and confusion. In addition, he pays close attention to whether he can smell alcohol on the driver’s breath or person.

An officer may ask questions to observe whether the driver displays signs of intoxication when answering the questions. Typical questions an officer asks during a DUI stop include:

  • Have you been drinking?
  • Where are you coming from, and where are you going?
  • Have you taken any medications or drugs?

The police officer may also have the driver perform field sobriety tests and take a breathalyzer as part of a DUI investigation. At this point, the person is not being subjected to custodial interrogation, so the officer is under no obligation to read the Miranda warning.

Is the Miranda Warning Required After a DUI Arrest?

Unless law enforcement officers intend to conduct a custodial interrogation, the Miranda warning is not required for a DUI arrest. If the police officer intends to place the driver under arrest without interrogating the driver, the officer does not need to inform the driver of his constitutional rights.

However, the Miranda warning is required once the driver is in custody and the police officer asks questions intended to obtain responses that will incriminate the driver. 

The questions the police officer might ask after a DUI arrest may be the same questions the officer asked during the DUI investigation. The key difference is that the driver is in custody (under arrest), which triggers the requirement for the Miranda warning. 

Can a Driver Invoke Their Right to Remain Silent During a DUI Stop and Investigation?

You have the right to remain silent during any encounter with law enforcement officers. You do not need to have your Miranda warning read to you to exercise your constitutional rights. 

Therefore, you are not required to answer any questions police officers ask during a DUI traffic stop. However, the driver must provide the office with a driver’s license and proof of insurance. 

A driver must make no particular words or statements to invoke their Miranda rights. The only requirement is that the person clearly and affirmatively state that they wish to invoke their rights. 

For example, asking a police officer whether you should remain silent or if you need an attorney may not be sufficient to invoke your Miranda rights. Instead, you would need to clearly state that you are choosing to invoke your right to remain silent, and you want to speak with an attorney. Once you invoke your right to remain silent, remaining silent cannot be used as evidence of guilt. 

How Can I Protect My Rights After a DUI Arrest?

After you are arrested for DUI, clearly state that you are invoking your right to remain silent. State that you want to talk to an attorney and have that attorney present during questioning. After invoking your rights, then remain silent. Do not answer questions, make statements, or talk to the police without an attorney present.

Likewise, do not waive your Miranda rights. After police officers give you the Miranda warning, you can choose to waive your rights and talk to the police. At that point, anything you say can be used against you in court.

The police officer generally asks you if you understand your rights. The officer may then ask you if you want to waive your rights and talk to the officer. At this point, you should affirm again that you are invoking your right to remain silent and wish to speak with an attorney.

Be careful what you do from this point forward. If you make a voluntary statement to the police after you invoke your Miranda rights, the court may consider the statement an implied waiver of your Miranda rights. 

What Happens if the Police Violate My Miranda Rights in My DUI Case?

Police officers may violate a person’s Miranda rights in several ways. For example, the police officer may fail to issue the Miranda warning. He continues questioning a person after the person invokes their right to remain silent or have an attorney present. An officer may coerce or threaten a suspect to waive their Miranda rights.

A violation of your Miranda rights could result in evidence in your case being inadmissible in court. Your DUI defense attorney files a motion to suppress evidence with the court on the grounds that the police violated your Miranda rights. If the judge finds the police violated your rights, he may exclude any statements you made after your rights were violated from evidence. 

The best way to protect your rights after a DUI arrest is to remain silent until you have consulted with a DUI defense attorney.

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