Miranda Warnings in DUI Cases
One of the most common questions we get during the initial DUI consultation is whether it matters that the arresting officer never read the Miranda warnings. The requirements for reading these warnings were explained in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
In DUI cases, Miranda warnings often play a role in a DUI prosecution because the jury is never told that the Defendant was read Miranda or exercised the right to remain silent or to speak to an attorney.
The Miranda decision, however, does not always result in statements being suppressed at trial. The defense will often argue that the statements taken before Miranda were read are inadmissible.
The defense might also claim that even if the statements are not barred by Miranda, they should be excluded under Florida Rule of Evidence 403 because their probative value is substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice.
When the officer read the Miranda warnings are not usually in dispute. If the driver invokes the rights under the Fifth Amendment, any statements that resulted from interrogation thereafter will be suppressed. But what about the statements he made at the scene of the traffic stop before an arrest and before Miranda was read?
Attorneys for Miranda Warnings in DUI Cases in Florida
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with DUI. Contact us to find out more about how the case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) might impact the statements admitted into evidence in your case.
The DUI defense attorneys in Tampa, FL, at Sammis Law Firm fight DUi cases involving a breath test, blood test or urine test. We also fight cases involving an alleged refusal to submit to testing. Contact us to discuss your case.
When are Miranda Warnings Required?
Miranda warnings are required whenever the State seeks to introduce against a defendant statements made by the defendant while in custody and under interrogation. Davis v. State, 698 So. 2d 1182, 1188 (Fla. 1997) [22 Fla. L. Weekly S331a].
Absent custody or interrogation, Miranda warnings are not required. Id. Miranda warnings are only required when a suspect’s freedom of action is curtailed to a “degree associated with formal arrest.” Hewitt v. State, 920 So. 2d 802, 804 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) [31 Fla. L. Weekly D543a] (quoting California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 1125 (1983)).
In general, persons temporarily detained pursuant to routine traffic stops are not “in custody” for Miranda purposes. Id. (citing Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 440 (1984)).
In the context of roadside questioning of motorists detained pursuant to routine traffic stops, Miranda warnings are required only where a suspect “thereafter is subjected to treatment that renders him ‘in custody’ for practical purposes.” Id. (quoting Berkemer, 468 U.S. at 440).
The Reasonable Person Standard for Detention Determinations
This question is viewed from the perspective an objectively reasonable person: “The proper inquiry is not the unarticulated plan of the police, but rather how a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have perceived the situation.” Davis, 698 So. 2d at 1188. The test does not involve consideration of whether the suspect was the focus of an investigation. State v. Alioto, 588 So. 2d 17, 18 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991).
In determining whether a suspect is in custody for Miranda purposes, Florida courts consider the following factors:
- the manner in which police have summoned the suspect for questioning;
- the purpose, place, and manner of the interrogation;
- the extent to which the suspect was confronted with evidence of guilt; and
- whether the suspect was informed of a right to leave the place of questioning.
Ramirez v. State, 739 So. 2d 568, 574 (Fla. 1999) [24 Fla. L. Weekly S353a].
When a person is detained for a DUI investigation, Miranda warnings are not always required. This is because whether the suspect is the focus of an investigation is often irrelevant. Instead, the court will look closely at situations in which a suspect was simultaneously confronted with a host of policemen especially when they brandished a weapon, physically touched the defendant, or used any language or tone of voice indicating that compliance would be compelled.
The absence of any of these facts has been found to be significant in finding that a motorist stopped for a traffic violation is not in custody for Miranda purposes. See, e.g., State v. Alioto, 588 So. 2d at 18.
The location of an interrogation is also considered when determining whether a suspect is in custody for Fifth Amendment purposes. Bannister v. State, 132 So. 3d 267, 276 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) [39 Fla. L. Weekly D117a]. For instance, when the questioning occurred on a public highway, it is less coercive than a police-dominated environment during an incommunicado stationhouse interrogation.
“[C]ircumstances associated with the typical traffic stop are not such that the motorist feels completely at the mercy of the police. To be sure, the aura of authority surrounding an armed, uniformed officer and the knowledge that the officer has some discretion in deciding whether to issue a citation, in combination, exert some pressure on the detainee to respond to questions. But other aspects of the situation substantially offset these forces. Perhaps most importantly, the typical traffic stop is public, at least to some degree. Passersby, on foot or in other cars, witness the interaction of officer and motorist.
This exposure to public view both reduces the ability of an unscrupulous policeman to use illegitimate means to elicit self-incriminating statements and diminishes the motorist’s fear that, if he does not cooperate, he will be subjected to abuse. The fact that the detained motorist typically is confronted by only one or at most two policemen further mutes his sense of vulnerability. In short, the atmosphere surrounding an ordinary traffic stop is substantially less ‘police dominated’ than that surrounding the kinds of interrogation at issue in Miranda itself, and in the subsequent cases in which we have applied Miranda.”
Berkemer, 468 U.S. at 438-39.
Whether Miranda warnings were read in your DUI case or not, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm to find out more about how this fact might impact the way your case is prosecuted.
This article was last updated on Thursday, January 2, 2020.