Information on Miranda Rights and How they Apply to DUI/DWI Arrests
When an individual is arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), it is a very serious matter where a person utilizing their constitutional rights is essential. More often than not, the charged individual will look for any and all ways for them to be able to have the case dismissed, so they will not face any consequences or have a DUI or DWI charge on their record. One of the ways that many people believe they will be able to have their case dismissed is if the arresting officer fails to read them their Miranda Rights.
Because of the popularity of many crime and law enforcement television shows and books, most people know the term “Miranda Rights.” Although many are familiar with what these rights are and may even be able to recite them, not many know how these rights came to be part of the requirements for law enforcement and when they apply during an arrest. Because of this, many people believe that not being read their rights is grounds to have their DUI or DWI case dismissed. While this is true and will apply in several cases, in reality, it may not always be the case or as cut-and-dried as it seems with this type of offense.
What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda Rights came about after a landmark decision by the Supreme Court during the case of Miranda v. Arizona, which took place in 1966. The defendant, Ernesto Miranda, was arrested by Phoenix Police Officers in connection with the kidnapping and rape of a young woman. Miranda was taken into custody based on circumstantial evidence but confessed committing the crime to officers after a very lengthy interrogation process. During this interrogation, Miranda was never informed of his right to not make any self-incriminating statements and remain silent until he was represented by an attorney.
The result of the Miranda v. Arizona case was that the precedent was set that all law enforcement officers must inform individuals being arrested of their right to not making any incriminating statements or answer any leading questions when being taken into custody as a criminal suspect. They must be informed of these rights before they are interrogated or asked any questions about the crime. Once the individual has been read his or her Miranda Rights, he or she must acknowledge that he or she understands those rights before law enforcement can ask any questions about the case or criminal acts being investigated.
After being informed of their Miranda Rights and acknowledging that they understand them, individuals have the choice of whether or not they wish to participate in the questions or interrogation. Should the individual who was arrested not wish to be interrogated or answer any questions, law enforcement officers cannot ask them. If at any point the arrested individual refrains for continuing with the questioning and asks to speak with an attorney, police officer must end the questioning immediately.
When Do Miranda Rights Apply?
Miranda Rights apply only after the individual has been arrested and informed of what he or she is being arrested. These rights do not apply in any questioning that may occur before an arrest has taken place. It is important to keep in mind, however, that even information given by an individual during preliminary questioning can be used against them, including if they blurt out a confession before they are arrested. This is the most common situation that surrounds DUI or DWI arrests.
When a DUI or DWI traffic stop occurs, law enforcement often asks preliminary questions, which are routine. In this situation, police officers will ask general questions like the individual’s name and date of birth as well as asking for their license, insurance, and registration without having to inform them or their Miranda Rights. Law enforcement officers are also trained to ask leading or incriminating questions such as “have you been drinking tonight?” or “how much have you had to drink this evening?” during their routine questioning in an attempt to get the individual to admit to drinking and driving.
Although these questions are being asked, the individual has no obligation to answer the questions – these questions are only investigational and are asked in an attempt by the police officer to confirm suspicion or detect intoxication of the driver. Just as answering these preliminary questions is not required, neither is agreeing to submit to a Breathalyzer or sobriety test after being pulled over.
Can My Case be Dismissed if I am Not Informed of My Miranda Rights?
In most DUI or DWI cases, the individual being informed of the Miranda Rights is not a requirement, which means a case cannot be dismissed because the officer did not recite them. Under the law, as long as all questioning is done before the individual is arrested, the Miranda Rights do not apply and anything that was said during the preliminary questioning can still be used against the individual during the DUI case. Miranda Rights only apply when the individual is arrested and formally interrogated by police.
How Can a DUI or DWI Case be Dismissed?
Even though failing to have your Miranda Rights read to you is not means to have your DUI case dismissed, there are some other reasons the case may be thrown out of court. These reasons usually revolve around mistakes made by the police officers who arrested the individual. Here are some of the most common reasons a DUI or DWI case can be dismissed:
Illegally Being Pulled Over
Although very rare, there have been instances where a DUI or DWI case has been thrown out of court because the arresting officer pulled the individual over illegally or lacked probable cause to pull them over. The only legal reasons a police officer has to pull your vehicle over include:
- Erratic/irregular driving
- Violation of traffic laws
- Fits description of stolen vehicle/vehicle involved in a crime
- Equipment violation
- Stopping at a DUI/DWI checkpoint
Lack of Probably Cause for a Breathalyzer Test
When law enforcement pulls an individual over legally and suspects drinking, he or she can request the individual perform a field sobriety test and/or take a Breathalyzer test. Police officers can only request these tests be performed if they have strong evidence that the individual is driving while intoxicated. It is important to keep in mind that individuals are not obligated to complete these tests but, if they refuse to do so, they could still lose their license for up to one year based on local “implied consent” laws.
Should the individual have the license suspended for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, he or she will need to request a license suspension hearing. During this hearing, the individual will need to prove there was no probable cause for the officer to ask for the breathylzer test by demonstrating the following:
- Traffic stop was invalid
- Lack of probable cause the individual was under the influence
- Lack of probable cause to request the breathylzer test
- Individual had a legitimate reason to refuse the breathylzer test
- Results of the breathylzer or chemical test were invalid
If the individual can prove one or all of these to be true during their hearing, it is very likely his or her license suspension will be reversed and the DUI or DWI case dismissed.
I wasn’t read my rights, can my charges get dismissed? The bottom line is that DUI cases can be won quickly when a driver is not Mirandized at the proper time during an arrest, or if a police officer doesn’t read you your Miranda rights at all. Once we can review the arrest online, we are then in an informed position with specifics to advise you how utilize your rights to win.
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