Do cops have to read Miranda Rights if they arrest me for DUI?
Many people incorrectly believe that if you are arrested for a California DUI, and the police don’t read you your “Miranda rights,” your DUI charges will automatically be dismissed. The fact, however, is that absent particular circumstances, Miranda rights are generally not required as a part of a California DUI investigation.
1. What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights take their name from the case “Miranda v. Arizona.” 1
A typical Miranda warning in a DUI or other criminal case is one where an officer instructs a suspect as follows:
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say may be used against you in court.
You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him/her present with you while you are being questioned.
If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning if you wish.1
Miranda rights and/or a Miranda warning are only required when :
the police arrest a suspect, and
the police are interrogating that suspect.
This means police are generally not required to read Miranda rights at a roadside DUI investigation unless:
the motorist has been placed under arrest, and
the officer is interrogating the motorist (asking incriminating questions).
2. What should people arrested for DUI do?
Remember that the police are not your friends. If a person gets arrested for driving under the influence, he/she should not get caught up in conversation.
Again, Miranda rights are generally not required as a part of a California DUI investigation. This means that if you voluntarily answer the officer’s questions as to what type of alcohol you drank, how much alcohol you drank, etc., any answers you give will be used against you during DUI plea bargaining and/or trial.
If you do find yourself in a situation where (1) you are arrested, and (2) the officer begins interrogating you without “reading you your rights,” your California DUI defense attorney will most likely prevail in a motion to have any statements you make excluded from evidence. But if both of those requirements are not satisfied, any incriminating statements that you make will be admissible against you.
The bottom line is that the best way to avoid having incriminating statements used against you is to keep quiet! Respectfully inform the officer at the beginning of your California DUI investigation that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent. And then, as difficult as it may be, do just that.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.