Why Miranda Warnings Matter in DUI Cases

Miranda warning is a notification given by law enforcement to criminal suspects in custody or in an interrogation advising them of their right to remain silent. Also known as “Miranda Rights”, this includes the right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcement or other officials.  

The main purpose of a Miranda warning is to protect a criminal suspect against self-incrimination, and under State and federal laws, must be read to any individual who is detained or under interrogation. In the case of a DUI offense, a Miranda warning can be critically important to the outcome of your case. Our Tampa DUI attorney explains why… 

What the Miranda Warning States 

We’ve all watched enough TV to know something about Miranda warnings and you may have heard it many times in shows or movies.  

What you may not realize is that Miranda warnings are not generally required to be read before bringing a DUI suspect into custody. Many arresting officers in Florida DUI offenses aren’t trained to read your Miranda rights until after your arrest occurs. Then, it’s mainly read if law enforcement intends to further question or interrogate you.  

When read to you, the warning (if given properly) will include:  

  • You have the right to remain silent.  
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. 
  • You have the right to have an attorney present.  
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.  

Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you? Having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?’  

It is never a good idea to speak to the police if you are under investigation for a crime.  

If you or someone you love been arrested for DUI or suspicion of drunk driving? Perhaps, this isn’t your first DUI arrest or the incident could have been more serious resulting in fatalities. Don’t attempt to defend yourself; you need experience on your side. Call the Tampa DUI defense law firm Stechschulte Nell at 813-280-1244 for a free case review.  

How Does Miranda Work in a DUI Investigation? 

In Tampa, FL DUI investigations, your Miranda rights, and other constitutional rights mean you have the right to: 

  1. Refuse to answer any questions (this can usually not be used against you); 
  2. You can (and generally we recommend you should) refuse to take any field sobriety test. While subjective, the jury may be notified you refused testing; 
  3. You can refuse to take any breath, blood or urine test (this applies even if the officer reads you an “implied consent warning” and again the jury may be told of your refusal); and 
  4. You can refuse the police officer’s request to search your person and/or vehicle. 

How to Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent 

Law enforcement may not have enough probable cause for a DUI arrest. Therefore, if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, you have the right to remain silent and are not required to answer any questions asked by the arresting officer.  

To prevent this scenario from taking a bad turn, DUI attorney Ben Stechschulte recommends keeping things cordial. If you do not wish to speak, politely let the officer know.  Anything you say may make it into the officer’s police report and could be considered when your case goes to trial.  

Invoking your right to remain silent is really simple. Say something to the effect of:  

  • “I’m taking the fifth” or, 
  •  “I wish to remain silent” or, 
  • “I’d like to talk to my attorney before making a statement” or,  
  • “I’m not answering any questions, or consenting to any search or test.” 

While you also have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and the officer’s request to search your vehicle, if you are already under arrest, an officer is permitted to search your car as “incident to arrest.” 

Keep in mind: if you invoke your right to remain silent, you can still be arrested. One of the first calls you should make is to an experienced DUI attorney to help you get your license back as quickly as possible and help you see a positive outcome for your unique case.  

Invoking Your Right to a DUI Attorney 

Under the Miranda warning, once taken into custody, you have the right to an attorney. Upon the arrest, an interrogation will take place and you can then ask for a lawyer. Once you ask for an attorney, the police must stop questioning you. 

It is your right to have a Florida DUI attorney present while the officers begin their custodial interrogation. In the absence of this, the officers cannot interrogate, or it is considered a violation of your constitutional rights.  

You have the right to remain silent – please use it! However, if you have submitted to a breath, blood, or urine test for DUI or you refused to submit testing, our defense team can help. The penalties for DUI vary and we can help you understand what punishments may apply for your first DUI, second DUI, or third DUI. Depending on the specifics of your case, enhanced penalties may apply. We’ll assist you in knowing what DUI defense strategy can base suit your case. 

I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights.  

The officer’s failure to read Miranda warnings can impact your DUI case. Your right to remain silent during an investigation is an important protection provided under the Constitution.  

In some cases, the failure of law enforcement to read your Miranda warnings during an interrogation may result in all of the statements being excluded at trial, under the exclusionary rule. As anything you say can be used against you, your statements are often critical to the prosecution. If any statements made are excluded, the State’s case may be weakened.  

If the officer does not ask any questions after the DUI arrest, then failure to read Miranda warnings may have little or no impact on your case. 

The requirement for Miranda exclusionary rule applies only when these conditions are met:   

  1. Evidence was gathered from the suspect; 
  2. It is testimonial evidence; 
  3. The evidence was obtained while the defendant was in police custody; 
  4. The evidence was gained during an interview or questioning; 
  5. The questioning was conducted by law enforcement or those working on their behalf; 
  6. Collected evidence must be offered by the prosecutor (or State Attorney’s Office) during prosecution. 

More About Miranda Warnings and Rights  

Charged with DUI? Contact Stechschulte Nell  

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you’ll want to seek the counsel of a specialized DUI lawyer for your specific DUI charge. A DUI conviction could stay on your record for 75 years; therefore, you want an attorney who has the necessary knowledge and experience it takes to fight your DUI charge.  

At Stechschulte Nell in Tampa, FL, we see you as a person, not as a criminal. Our defense team will be by your side throughout the entire legal process. Call 813-280-1244 or request a Free DUI case review.  

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