Miranda Warnings in DUI Investigations
When we first talk with our client about the DUI case, the most common question is "Why didn't the arresting officer read me Miranda during the DUI investigation or even after the arrest?" The short answer is that the Miranda warning is only required after you are taken into custody and being detained during the roadside investigation doesn't qualify as being taken into custody.
That analysis might change if the officer started accusing you of violating the law, asked accusatory questions, demanded that you do certain things, moved you from one location to another, put you in handcuffs, or put you in the back of the police vehicle.
Being taken into custody usually involves being told, "Put your hands behind your back. You are being arrested for DUI." At that point, the officer has probably already ask you all the questions he intends to ask. The only question required after the arrest is "Will you take the breath test?" Although it sounds counter-intuitive, Miranda is not required for that question.
Although the information provided here is intended as general information, the only way to know what impact the failure to read Miranda warnings might have in your case is to speak directly with a DUI Attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, about the specific facts of your case.
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You Have the Right to Remain Silent - Use It!!!
Everyone knows something about the Miranda warnings because we have all heard the warning dozens of times in television shows or at the movies.
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 appointed to you. Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you? Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?
Although everyone knows something about Miranda warnings, very few people understand how simple it is to actually invoke their constitutional rights. In real life, after receiving the warning, most people immediately start talking. People who are innocent talk. People who are guilty talk.
Very few people seem to understand that regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent, you should never talk to the people once you are under investigation for a criminal offense.
Who Actually Invokes Their Rights?
In my experience, the only people who invoke their right to remain silent are people who are familiar with the criminal justice system including police officers, judges, prosecutors, probation officers, criminal defense attorneys and their children, family members and friends. Sometimes I see individuals who have been arrested numerous times who invoke their rights because they have learned from prior experience.
It is never a good idea to talk to the police when you are under investigation for a crime. In fact, professionals of the criminal justice system often teach their children that they should immediately invoke their right to remain silent if they become the target of a criminal investigation.
Why is it that only people with experience in the criminal justice system understand the importance of actually invoking these constitutional rights to remain silent? They obviously know something that most people don't know - you have a right to remain silent and you should always use it.
How Do You Invoke Your Right to an Attorney?
So if you should invoke your right to remain silent then how is that done? Actually, it is really simple. You simply say, "I'm taking the fifth" or "I want to remain silent" or "I want to talk to my attorney before making a statement". You can also say, I'm not answering any questions, taking any test, or consenting to any search."
No magic words are required if you want to remain silent or ask for an attorney. After asking for an attorney and invoking your right to remain silent you need to actually remain silent until after you have spoken with your attorney. Once you ask for an attorney, the police have to stop questioning you.
If the police continue to question you, then the police are violating your constitutional rights and you should continue to remain silent.
But if I invoke my right to remain silent, then I might be arrested?
Sure. But if the police have probable cause to arrest you then regardless of whether you talk or not, you are likely to be arrested. In many cases, the officers do not have probable cause to arrest you until you start talking. Therefore, invoke your right to remain silent even though it is possible that you will be arrested after doing so.
How Does Miranda Work During a Roadside DUI Investigation?
In the context of a DUI investigation in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, your Miranda rights and other constitutional rights mean that you can:
- Refuse to answer any of the officer's questions (this refusal to answer questions can usually not be used against you);
- You can (and typically should) refuse to take any field sobriety (although the jury may be told that you refused if the officer warns you that the refusal can be used against you);
- You can refuse to take any breath, blood or urine test (and you should typically refuse to take the test when you have never previously refused even through certain administrative consequences even though the jury may be told of the refusal or administrative if the officer reads you an "implied consent warning"); and
- You can refuse the officer's request to search your person or vehicle.
Read more about when Miranda warnings are required in a DUI case in Florida.
Failure to Read Miranda Warnings
After a DUI arrest in Tampa, FL, many people want to know whether the officer's failure to read Miranda warnings will impact the DUI case. The right to remain silent during a criminal investigation is the most important protection provided under the United States Constitution.
In certain cases, the failure of the officer to read Miranda warnings during a custodial interrogation may result in all of the statements being excluded (or thrown out of court by the trial judge), under the exclusionary rule.
In many cases, the DUI suspect's statements are critical to the prosecution. Once those statements are excluded, the prosecutor's case might be weakened. Miranda violations occur in a variety of situations which are too numerous to adequately discuss in this article. However, a few common situations in which the violations occur include:
- After a DUI vehicle accident or crash when the officer conducts a crash investigation which triggers the accident report privilege and then switches to a DUI investigation.
- When the officer asks the DUI suspect to accompany the officer to a different location away from the place where the vehicle is stopped in order to conduct field sobriety exercises.
- When the officer finds drugs, an open container of alcohol or other contraband in the vehicle or on the DUI suspects which escalates the investigation beyond a common DUI investigation.
- When the officer questions the DUI suspect after an arrest has occurred.
In other cases, the officer does not read the DUI suspect the Miranda warnings, however, the failure to read Miranda warnings has little impact in the case. Miranda warnings are generally not required during a typicial DUI investigation before any arrest occurs.
In fact, the DUI officers are trained not to read Miranda until after the arrest occurs, and only then if the officer intends to further interrogate the suspect. If the officer does not ask any questions of the DUI suspect after the arrest, then the failure to read Miranda warnings may have little or no impact.
The requirement for Miranda exclusionary rule apply only when the following six conditions apply:
- Evidence was gathered from the defendant;
- The evidence was testimonial in nature;
- The evidence was gained while the defendant was in police custody;
- The evidence was obtained as a result of the interrogation or questioning;
- The interrogation or questioning was conducted by state-agents (law enforcement or those working on the behalf of law enforcement);
- The evidence the evidence must be offered by the prosecutor or State Attorney's Office during a criminal prosecution.
If the DUI suspects invokes his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment by refusing to answer questions during the investigation (or if the defendant does not testify at trial) then the prosecutor cannot comment during the trial on the fact that the defendant invoked this right.
If the prosecutor were able to comment on the defendant exercising the right to remain silent, then the jury might assume that the defendant invoked these rights because he is guilty and had something to hide. Griffin v. California, 380 U.S. 609 (1965).
The defendant can waive his Fifth Amendment rights if he decides to testify at trial. If so, then the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office may be able to attack his credibility by commenting on the fact that he remained silent during the investigation. See Jenkins v. Anderson, 447 U.S. 231 (1980).
The Legacy of Mr. Ernesto Miranda
In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966), the United States Supreme Court held that both inculpatory (admitting guilt) and exculpatory statements (denying guilt) that were made in response to questing or interrogation by a defendant in police custody would be admissible at trial only if the prosecution could establish that the suspect was told about the following rights:
- The right to talk with an attorney before and during questioning; and
- The right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police.
The Miranda Court also ruled that the prosecutor must also prove that the suspect not only understood these constitutional rights, but voluntarily waived those rights. The Miranda decision dramatically impacted law enforcement officers throughout the United States.
Basic police training and procedures thereafter required the officers to give those "Miranda Rights" when required under the circumstances or risk those statements being excluded.
The history of Miranda Rights have continued to evolve, particularly as those rights exist in DUI cases. As attitudes about Miranda warnings continue to evolve, so does the application of the landmark Miranda decision. The definition of the Miranda warnings has continued to evolve and varies slightly from state to state.
MirandaWarning.Org - Find out more information about Miranda warnings and rights from this informative internet website which includes information about the history of Miranda rights, pre-arrest questioning, post-arrest interrogation, the exclusionary rule, FAQ, information, and statistics.
Lawyers Explain the Impact of Miranda Warnings in Florida DUI Cases
At the Sammis Law Firm, we recognize that small factual details can make a huge difference in how a DUI case is decided in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida. Although this article provides general information, entire books have been written on the subject.
This article was last updated on Monday, March 11, 2019.