A very common question asked after an individual is arrested for any charge, especially one of Driving While Intoxicated, revolves around whether or not the Miranda Rights were actually read. This is a very relevant question to ask, and Texas DWI Laws have a specific set of guidelines for when, and how, they apply. The "Miranda Rights" are the legal rights that must be read to a person at the time of an arrest or read after taken into custody for DWI offense or any other criminal offense. Though every jurisdiction may have its own particular wording and terminology, the following is the basic "Miranda Rights" verbiage. Miranda warnings were first implemented in the seminal case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966).
Every United States jurisdiction has its own varying regulations regarding what, exactly, must be said to a person arrested or placed in a "custodial" situation. The typical warning is somewhat similar to the following:
1. You have the right to remain silent when questioned;
2. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law. (Modern readings have can and will in place of may);
3. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.
5. If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
6. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
You don't have to be an attorney to have been exposed or heard of the "Miranda Rights" - in fact, almost everyone has heard of them on TV or in movies, or perhaps you may have watched law enforcement programs on TV or even read some books where someone was read the proverbial "Miranda Rights."
The key point to whether Miranda applies or not, in a broad criminal defense context, is whether someone is under "custodial interrogation." Per the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, , "custodial interrogation refers to questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." The United States Supreme Court has clarified that a person is being subjected to a custodial interrogation if "a reasonable person would have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave." Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99, 112 (1995). In other words, a custodial interrogation is a situation in which the suspect's freedom of movement is restrained, even if he is not under arrest.
What this means is, whether it has been explicitly stated or not, if a person is placed in a situation and is not "technically" free to leave, and therefore is being detained for questioning, Miranda Rights should have already been read. If the suspect is NOT properly "Mirandized" - and is under arrest, or under the legal definition of "custodial interrogation" - anything that is said subsequent to detainment would not be admissible in a court of law (probably most specifically, later at a trial).
The Miranda Rights usually given are as follows:
1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say can and will be used against you later in a court of law.
3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer, and have a lawyer with you while you are being questions.
4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you free of charge before any questioning if you wish.
Miranda Rights: DWI Defense
In terms of DWI cases, a person who is alleged of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs must be read the Miranda rights after an arrest occurs. However, police officers do NOT have to read the Miranda Rights prior to conducting the "Standardized Field Sobriety Tests." Usually they are read later at the station, and often even after a subject consents to the taking of a chemical specimen.
If the arresting law enforcement officer neglects to read the proper Miranda warnings to the accused, this may indicate that any statements made by the driver, from whenever this time is and going forward, may be deemed inadmissible in later court proceedings (especially and including at a trial). This can seriously harm the prosecution's case against the defendant.
Taking full advantage of your "Miranda Rights" is one of the most crucial things you can do if you are arrested for DWI. Instead of agreeing to questioning without your attorney present or indicating anything at all that can be made use of against you, invoke your right to an attorney and make certain your rights are fully secured. Once a police officer properly reads the Miranda warnings, anything subsequently stated by the accused will be admissible in court. This is why it is imperative to say as little as possible during a DWI investigation, including and especially after an individual has been read their Miranda warnings.
The arresting officer should read you what is called the "DIC-24" Statutory Warning. This must be read after the arrest, and is basically a legalese way to ask an individual whether they want to submit to a breath or blood specimen. You can refuse to the voluntary taking of these tests, and you should, however, it should be noted that the investigating officer can get a blood "search warrant" to obtain the blood if signed by a Judge or a Magistrate.
The basic rights and terminology for these "DIC-24" rights are as follows:
1. A refusal to submit to a chemical test or any portion thereof will result in the immediate suspension and subsequent revocation of your license or operating privilege, whether or not you are found guilty of the charge for which you were arrested.
2. Your refusal to submit to a chemical test or any portion thereof can be introduced into evidence against you at a later trial, proceeding, or hearing resulting from this arrest.
3. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?
4. Will you submit to a chemical test for purpose of determining the alcohol and/or drug content of your blood?
What about the statements a driver makes before a DWI arrest?
For an individual under suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated, it is crucial (as stated previously) to fully realize that anything at all that was said, and subsequently recorded or written in an arrest report, prior to his or her arrest may, and probably will, be used in a court of law. Knowing the full reasoning for this rationale, the law enforcement investigating officer may ask incriminating questions to help establish a probable cause for a driving while intoxicated arrest.
The law enforcement officer may ask questions like where the driver was going, how much he or she drank, etc. A driver has the right to politely refuse to answer any of these types of questions, and doing so may be one of the most important factors a driver does to help avoid giving the prosecution any ammunition for their case against the driver later at trial. However, it is important to note they DO NOT have to read the Miranda warnings during their DWI investigation, and so all statements would be admissible at trial (and are usually recorded via video from the in-car dash cam).
Contact Us Now
You can contact The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder at anytime for assistance at 214.702.CARL(2275) or at 469.2000.DWI(394). You can also e-mail Carl directly, at Carl@CederLaw.com; or to the office for general inquiries at Info@DFWDefenders.com. Phones should be answered 24 hours a day/7 days a week for immediate and prompt assistance. E-mail messages will try to be responded to with 24-48 hours, depending on whether Carl and his team is in trial and/or is busy working on a case for a contested hearing.