Miranda Rights in DUI Cases

Lawyer Defending Phoenix Area Residents Charged With Drunk Driving

Arizona punishes DUIs harshly. You have a number of constitutional rights that the police are supposed to honor if you are pulled over or arrested. Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you cannot be forced to be a witness against yourself in a criminal trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, people charged with crimes have the right to counsel at every stage of a legal proceeding. If you have been charged and are concerned about your Miranda rights in a DUI case, seasoned legal representation can be a wise next step. Experienced Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak has helped countless local residents facing drunk driving charges, and is well-versed in the legal rights that must be respected throughout the course of your arrest and time in police custody.

What are Miranda Rights?

In the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the police must respect specific constitutional rights when arresting a suspect. They are supposed to let the person being arrested know that he has the right to remain silent, that what is said may be used against him, and that he is entitled to an attorney regardless of whether he can afford one. Any time you face a custodial interrogation, you are entitled to have your "Miranda rights" read to you. "Custodial interrogation" can be difficult to establish but generally, you'll need to show you were in custody rather than free to leave, and that the police spoke in a way that could be expected to secure a response.

When are You in Custody?

There are many scenarios in which you should potentially be read your Miranda rights in a DUI case. You are considered in custody for Miranda warning purposes if, considering all the circumstances, there's a formal arrest or restriction on your freedom of movement to the same extent that it would be in a formal arrest situation. Factors the court will consider include: (1) where the interrogation was, (2) whether the investigation focused on the accused if disclosed to the suspect, (3) whether there was objective evidence of arrest, and (4) how long and you were interrogated. The court isn't looking only at whether a suspect's freedom was substantially restricted, but also at whether the environment where he was interrogated created inherently coercive pressure, like police a station might.

If you aren't in police custody, the police need not provide a Miranda warning. What you say can be used at trial in spite of no warning in a noncustodial situation. Sometimes the police suggest that someone is free to go so that no Miranda warning need be given, and then they secure a self-incriminating admission anyhow. It's important not to make statements without a lawyer.

Motion to Suppress Statements

When the police don't give Miranda warnings where they were required, statements you make are not supposed to be used against you in a criminal trial. However, a police officer's failure to provide you with Miranda warnings doesn't make an arrest invalid. Rather, you would need to file a motion to get those statements suppressed.

Statements Made Before Miranda Warnings

Courts have concluded that voluntary confessions are different than statements made in custodial interrogations. To decide whether a confession is voluntary, the court will consider whether your will was overcome in light of the totality of the circumstances. In one case, the defendant argued that his statements made without Miranda warnings weren't voluntary because he was in extreme pain. The court in that case reasoned that the defendant's mental and physical states were relevant to deciding whether someone was susceptible to coercion, but weren't enough to render a statement involuntary.

Further, in the same case, the court concluded that the defendant wasn't in custody when he answered officers’ questions while waiting for medical attention and inside the ambulance while traveling to the hospital. The court in that case reasoned that the officers were trying to figure out what had happened, and the initial questions were crafted to get basic information and decide the status of injuries. The court also found that initially at the hospital the investigation was ongoing and the defendant wasn't in custody. However, it found that questions presented after formal arrest and before the defendant was advised of his Miranda rights were not admissible at trial.

DUI Defense Attorney Serving Phoenix

If you are concerned about your Miranda rights in a DUI case, experienced lawyer James E. Novak may be able to help. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor who represents defendants charged with drunk driving throughout the Phoenix area including in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him via our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.