Do the cops have to read me my Miranda Rights in Maryland after a DUI stop?
This is a common question that we get at Bruce Robinson and Associates, Maryland’s DUI Law Firm. Lawyer T.V. shows tend to portray lawyers as having a glamorous job they misrepresent a few things about lawyers and the law. It works the same way with medical dramas. After a few episodes of E.R. I feel like I can diagnose any disease.
Often people have assumptions about the law because they saw something on T.V. Most people who haven’t been living under a rock believe that the police have a legal obligation to read you your rights during an arrest. This can be correct depending on the type of case but it is also misleading. The origination of these rights stems from a landmark criminal case known as Miranda v. Arizona which involved kidnapping and armed robbery, among other crimes perpetuated by a laborer that was in and out of trouble his whole life. It had to do with a coerced confession without counsel- of defendant Ernesto Miranda.
Miranda requires the police tell a defendant several things before an interrogation or questioning following an arrest. If they follow the rules set forth in Miranda then any statements made during a custodial interrogation may be used in court. Miranda basically ensures that any Defendant knows that if they say something incriminating to the officer when asked questions then those answers can subsequently be used in court against them.
To the surprise of many DUI Defendants, Miranda is rarely implicated in a DUI arrest. The explanation is easy. Unlike a robbery of a store or a Murder, a DUI incident happens right in front of the officer. The officer witnesses the crime being committed. This makes the officer the main witness in a DUI case. A robbery or murder would likely not happen in the presence of an officer therefore the officer must rely on witnesses other than himself. One major way officers gather information is by interviewing suspects and witnesses. Sometimes they get confessions by the defendant themselves.
In a DUI the officer generally sees the Defendant driving the vehicle. Then he uses those clues and observations to conclude that the defendant is impaired by alcohol. Miranda conversely, only applies during in custody (post arrest) questioning. In a DUI all of the field sobriety tests and observations are done prior to being arrested. So that’s the big difference, in a DUI, the incriminating evidence and possible questioning by the officer is completed prior to the DUI arrest being effectuated. While this is the technical differentiation for lack of Miranda in DUI cases, it still remains somewhat of a legal fallacy because even though a DUI defendant may not be arrested at the time of field sobriety tests and or questioning on the street, the Defendant is not free to leave the scene of the stop and therefore, should be Mirandized prior to any questioning or the execution of roadside gym tests. The law however because of the overwhelming disdain for alcohol traffic crimes, does not agree.
So what does this mean for a Defendant in a Maryland DUI Arrest? It is typical for an officer to not even bother with Miranda during a DUI stop. If the officer wants to interrogate/ask questions, he is obliged to do so prior to arresting (putting the bracelets on). Miranda as it relates to DUI is somewhat a misconception. This information should remind those who are being charged with a DUI that you do have certain rights; among them, you have the right to refuse all of the officer’s information gathering. You have the right to refuse the fields and any questioning without legal consequence. Also remember that anything you say prior to arrest is not subject to Miranda and therefore can be used against you.