How Important are Miranda Rights in a DUI Case?

Many people believe that before they are being questioned by officers, they must be provided their Miranda. However, when you are stopped for a potential DUI, officers are conducting what is considered an “investigation,” and this is not covered by the Miranda right. The Miranda right is protection against self-incrimination after an arrest and during an interrogation. However, hiring a knowledgeable attorney can assist in determining exactly what stage of the process the questioning occurred and may be able to eliminate evidence if it was obtained improperly.

 

Investigation

When you were stopped by the officer, he or she was conducting an investigation to determine if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the operation of a motor vehicle. Because of this, an officer will ask for your license, registration, and in the State of California your proof of insurance. They may ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests and request you take a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAST) for alcohol or submit to a cheek swab for the presence of marijuana or other types of drugs. The officer is also looking to see if you demonstrate any signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, red watery eyes, dilated or pinprick pupils, or any signs of confusion.

 

The officer typically asks questions such as:

·  “Where are you going?”

·  “Have you consumed any alcohol today or used any drugs recently?”

 

Remaining Silent

You may always remain silent, and do not have to answer the officer’s questions. You must provide the documents requested by the officer, such as your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. If you answered the officer’s questions and are now concerned about the consequences of your answers, contacting a knowledgeable attorney can provide you with an understanding of the process and protect your rights during the criminal proceedings.

 

 Arrest and Interrogation

Once the officer places you under arrest and starts questioning you, he or she must provide you with your Miranda rights. This phase of the process is usually considered the interrogation process. The officer has determined there was probable cause that you were driving under the influence and has arrested you for the crime. The questioning that occurs after an arrest is considered interrogation and your statements are designed to obtain incriminating responses and to be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding. If the officer does not provide you with your Miranda rights prior to interrogation, any statements obtained may not be allowed into evidence. This is why it is important to have an attorney represent you to ensure your rights are protected.

 

It is important to understand that Miranda does not apply to statements obtained during the investigation process or evidence obtained at the scene such as poor driving, observed symptoms of intoxication, or results from a field sobriety test or breath test. An attorney can help you understand each phase of this process and the potential evidence obtained during the investigation and interrogation. The attorney may be able to reduce the impact of statements and evidence admitted to court.


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