Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was arrested a week ago for driving while intoxicated (DWI). I had gone to a bar with some friends and had a few beers and a few shots. When I was pulled over I performed a field sobriety test and later performed a chemical test. My BAC was over the legal limit. The cop arrested me for a Texas DWI. Never at any time during the Texas DWI arrest was I read my Miranda Rights. I thought the police had to do this at the time of the Texas DWI arrest. What will this mean for my DUI case?”
What are your Miranda Rights?
In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that individuals who are taken into police custody and prior to questioning must be notified of their Fifth Amendment rights, specifically, their right to avoid self-incrimination. Specifically, the court ruled that police must notify the suspect of the following:
The suspect has the right to remain silent.
Anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot appoint an attorney one will be appointed for you.
Do the police have to read me my rights before my Texas DWI arrest?
While it makes good television when an officer grabs a suspect and pins their arms behind their back while reciting the Miranda Warning, reciting these words are not necessary for a legal DUI arrest. In fact, the police do not have to read you the Miranda Warning unless they are going to officially interrogate you after you have been placed under arrest.
Does this mean you have to be at the police station sitting in an interrogation room for it to be an official interrogation? No, in fact, you could be anywhere, including a busy street or in the middle of a field. But there is one caveat, you must be in police custody, which means you must be deprived of your freedom. Consider, however, if you are not in police custody no Miranda Warning is necessary.
Biggest mistake made by suspects during Texas DWI arrest
One of the biggest mistakes made by a DUI suspect, and one the police use to get around the Miranda statement warning, is to get suspects to say something incriminating before they are arrested.
For example, if you confess prior to the Texas DWI arrest it’s likely anything you will say will wind up in the police report and can be presented at your trial, regardless if the police ever read you the Miranda Warning.
So what do you do if you have been stopped and the police started to question you? There are a few questions you have to answer. For example, you will have to tell the police your name and provide certain pieces of documentation (i.e. your driver’s license and your registration).
You do not, however, have to tell them whether you have been drinking or how much alcohol you have consumed. In fact, a perfectly good answer is to respond that you have been advised not to answer any questions.
A failure to read you your Miranda Rights will not invalidate a Texas DWI arrest.
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