Everyone has heard “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” when someone gets arrested in a television show or movie. These are known as Miranda Warnings that serve as a reminder to arrested persons of their Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights were established in 1966 after the famous US Supreme Court case, Miranda vs. Arizona. This case determined that admitting incriminating information before being informed of these rights violates the Fifth Amendment (the right against compelled self-incrimination) and the Sixth Amendment (the right to legal counsel).
Although Miranda Rights protect an individual suspected of a crime from providing statements that could be used against them in a legal case, police and prosecutors are still able to arrest an individual and prove guilt if they have other evidence (besides a statement from the suspected individual) to support it. If this is the case, then Miranda Warnings do not necessarily need to be read to the arrested individual. Miranda Warnings also do not need to be read if the individual is not yet in police custody or if there is no plan for the person to be interrogated.
An officer is allowed to pull a driver over if they have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is violating traffic laws. In order make an arrest for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense, the officer needs probable cause and will carefully observe the scene to find evidence for this. Initial evidence the police officer looks for includes: odor of alcohol, open containers of alcoholic beverages, or physical signs of alcohol intoxication (such as slurred speech).
If the police officer determines that a driver is likely intoxicated, they may ask the driver to perform a series of tests. Miranda Warnings do not have to be read to the driver prior these tests. It should be noted that these tests are not mandatory; however, refusal to cooperate may be grounds for the police officer to determine probable cause for an arrest.
One test a driver of a suspected DUI offense may be asked to do is the Field Sobriety Test. The first part of this test is the Nystagmus Test where the driver is asked to follow an object with their eyes that the officer holds 12 inches away from their face. The second is the Walk and Turn Test that involves the driver walking and counting nine heel-to-toe steps down a straight light, turning with a series of small steps, and walking back and counting another nine heel-to-toe steps. The Standing on One Leg Test is the third part of the Field Sobriety Test and involves the driver raising a leg six inches off the ground. The Finger to Nose Test is another part of the Field Sobriety Test where the driver is instructed to touch their nose with their finger with their eyes closed. Finally, the Rhomberg Balance Test involves a driver suspected of a DUI offense to stand straight and tilt their head back for 30 seconds while their eyes are closed. These tests are all sensitive to the affects of alcohol intoxication, and a driver’s performance on these tests could establish probable cause for a police officer to make an arrest.
Another test a driver suspected of a DUI offense may be asked to do to establish probable cause is a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test. This is typically done with a handheld breathalyzer device that determines if the blood alcohol content of the individual is over the legal limit.
Once an individual suspected of a DUI offense has completed these tests and shows signs of alcohol intoxication, the police officer has enough evidence to establish probable cause that a DUI offense has been committed. The police officer, therefore, is not required to read Miranda Warnings to the driver because the case does not depend on potentially incriminating statements from the driver to prove that a DUI offense was committed.
Given that DUI offenses often do not rely on self-incriminating statements by the offender, these cases usually cannot be expunged based on the grounds that Miranda Warnings were not read. It is recommended that, even if there is enough evidence to support a DUI offense, it is always important to keep your Miranda Rights in mind and not provide any statements that could further the case against you.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Learn more about DUI by reading this wikipedia page.