Miranda Rights and DUI Defense

One of the most common questions asked of me as a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney is whether a case can be dismissed due to the failure of the arresting officer to give a "Miranda Warning". Most people are familiar with the need for the police to warn someone arrested for a criminal offense that anything they say may be used against them in evidence, that they are entitiled to a lawyer and to remain silent. We know this because we have seen cops on TV arresting the bad guys and informing them of their "rights".

Miranda v. Arizona is a 1966 case that says that a defendant's responses to police interrogation are not admissable against him unless he has been first advised of his right to counsel and his right against self incrimination, and waived them both. The courts have further held that these rights are applicable only to suspects who are in "custody" as a protection against police coercion. The test of whether a person is in custody is an objective test depending on the circumstances.

The problem in DUI cases is that a suspect is normally stopped for an infraction and then asked questions such as "have you been drinking" prior to an arrest. The courts have held that a person stopped for a traffic offense is "detained" but not in custody. For this reason, courts have routinely admitted statements made at the scene of a traffic stop despite the lack of "Miranda warnings" in a DUI case. In any event, the most important evidence in a DUI case is not normally the defendants own comments, but the field sobriety tests and the blood or breath test results. This evidence cannot be suppressed for failure to give Miranda warnings as it is not considered communication.

For the above reasons, Miranda warnings are not normally the issue in defending DUI charges in California. There are more important ways of defending these cases. Please consult with a DUI Defense Attorney in the area in which you were arrested for advise on the evidence in your case


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