Protecting Your Miranda Rights During a Fort Walton Beach DUI Arrest
When you are arrested for driving under the influence, you have certain rights. These rights include the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, and the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. In a previous post, I discussed your Fourth Amendment rights during a DUI traffic stop. In this post, I will explain when you have the right to remain silent under Miranda and how this right works.
Arizona v. Miranda
The Fifth Amendment states, in part, that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Though this amendment was ratified back in 1791, police departments across the country largely ignored it until 1966 when Arizona v. Miranda came along. Everyone has heard of “Miranda rights” from the news, television, and movies, but what exactly are these rights and why do they exist?
Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department for kidnapping and rape. While at the police station, the officer elicited a signed confession from Miranda. This confession stated that Miranda gave his statement voluntarily and was not threatened or coerced into talking. However, during interrogation, Miranda was not told he had a right to a lawyer, a right to remain silent, or that anything he said could be used against him during prosecution. Though Miranda was initially convicted, he appealed, arguing that because his confession could not be truly voluntary without being informed of these rights, they should not have been introduced at trial by the prosecutor.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed. The Court held that any suspect who makes an incriminating statement during custodial interrogation must first be informed of certain rights. These rights include:
- The right to remain silent;
- Anything told to police can and will be used against the suspect in a court of law;
- The right to consult with an attorney;
- The right to have an attorney present with a suspect during the questioning; and
- An attorney will be appointed for a suspect if he cannot afford one.
Miranda Rights During Fort Walton Beach DUI Arrests
So what does this mean for you? When you are stopped under suspicion of drunk driving and are placed into custody, the Fort Walton Beach officer must give you Miranda warnings before questioning you. If the officer fails to read you your rights, any statements you make at that time cannot be used against you.
However, not every statement made will be in violation of Miranda. The tricky part of Miranda is that it requires custodial interrogation. Interrogation is direct questioning on what happened. It becomes custodial when you are in the custody and control of the police department. This occurs, for example, when you are under arrest, such as sitting in the police cruiser or in a holding cell at the station. When an officer first approaches your car during a DUI traffic stop and asks if you’ve been drinking, though you have been stopped and don’t feel free to leave, you are not in custody yet. The officer is merely investigating to determine if you have violated the law. Therefore, the officer does not have to inform you of your rights. You do have the right to refuse to answer questions at any time, though. Remember: you may feel the urge to explain yourself or justify your actions. Do not do this! Statements given to an officer will not help you avoid an arrest. They will only be used against you in court.
Suppress Statements in Violation of the Fifth Amendment with a Skilled Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you made a statement to a police officer or detective in Fort Walton Beach during a DUI arrest, you may be eligible to suppress your statements if no Miranda warnings were given. Experienced Fort Walton Beach DUI Defense Lawyer Stephen G. Cobb can assist you with evaluating your case for any possible constitutional violations. Contact our Okaloosa County criminal defense law firm today at (850) 466-1522 for a free consultation.
Cobb Law Firm
1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 101-B
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547