The Police Didn't Read Me My Rights, Will My Case Will Be Dismissed?
“You have the right to remain silent.” Most of us know the rest, more or less, thanks to countless television shows and movies. These are more commonly known as Miranda rights or a Miranda warning. When we hear so much about the Miranda rights in shows like CSI and Law and Order, we may think that if the police didn't read you your Miranda rights, then your case will be dismissed. That may be true in some cases, but in most DUI cases, it won't make a difference.
The term “Miranda Rights,” comes from a court case that eventually made its way up to the Supreme Court of the United States. The case was Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and is one that every law student probably remembers from their criminal law course.
The landmark case involved a man named Ernesto Miranda who was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department in 1963. There was circumstantial evidence linking him to a kidnapping and rape. After a couple hours of interrogation police, he signed a confession, which included the statement that it was with the knowledge of his legal rights. However, Miranda was never told about his right to an attorney or his right to remain silent.
When the case went to trial, his lawyer objected to introduction of the confession, because it wasn't voluntary. His lawyer's objection was overruled, and Miranda was convicted. After losing an appeal, it went up to the Supreme Court for a decision.
In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination requires law enforcement to advise a suspect of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney before interrogation. So what does this mean for a DUI case?
Miranda Rights in a DUI Case
In most DUI cases, a Miranda warning won't be of much use because the prosecutor may not need your statements to get a conviction. All the evidence of drinking and driving may be right in front of the police, and they don't need you to say anything at all.
The other reason Miranda warnings usually don't apply is that most DUIs occur during a roadside stop, which is generally not considered to be a custodial interrogation for the purposes of Miranda. Once arrested, you may be in custody, but by that point the police usually have most of the information they need. They have an observation of your impaired driving; the possible smell of alcohol; slurred speech; possible failed field sobriety tests; and sometimes even the statement of the driver that they have been drinking. At that time they only want one more thing, a chemical test.
When a driver is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, they are supposed to be read the implied consent warnings. This can be more important that Miranda warnings in most DUI cases.
The implied consent law requires a driver arrested for a DUI to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine. If you refuse to submit to a test, the state can suspend your driver's license for a year. Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 40-5-67.1, “at the time a chemical test or tests are requested, the arresting officer shall select and read to the person the appropriate implied consent notice.”
For most drivers (excluding commercial drivers and drivers under 21-years-old), the implied consent notice includes the following:
Georgia law requires you to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial. If you submit to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. After first submitting to the required state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests of your (breath, blood or urine) under the implied consent law?
All the information needs to be read, but does not have to be read exactly as written as long as the substance of the notice remains unchanged. Once the law enforcement officer advises a person of their rights regarding chemical testing, the person is deemed to have been advised of their rights. The results of any chemical test or the refusal to submit to such a test, can be admitted into evidence.
After an Atlanta DUI Arrest
The implied consent warning may be more important to your DUI arrest than any Miranda warnings the officer may or may not have been read. Whatever happens during a DUI arrest may help your case. An arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. There are many cases where the police didn't properly inform or instruct a driver before a DUI arrest, which can result in reduced charges or having your case dismissed. Contact an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney who has dedicated their professional career to defending people charged with DUIs. Call me today so we can talk about what happened when you were arrested, and I will fight for your rights.