The Most Commonly Asked Question: "I Was Arrested For DUI in Georgia and I Was Not Read My Miranda Rights"
Explaining Miranda Rights:
Several times a week callers tell me that they were “never read their rights,” referring to what is commonly called a person's "Miranda rights."
Because of television and movies, people have come to expect that when a person is arrested the police officer will recite that they have the right to remain silent; that anything they say can be used against them in court; and that they have the right to the assistance of an attorney; and if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent them.
Because of this expectation, when a person is arrested for DUI and not read those rights, it's confusing. Many callers wonder aloud if the DUI case will be dismissed because they were not read their “rights.”
The Word “Miranda” is Not in the Constitution:
To begin with, Miranda is not a right. It's a United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In the Miranda case, the Supreme Court analyzed the 5th and 6th amendments to the United States Constitution, which deal with a person's right not to incriminate himself or herself and a person's right to an attorney, respectively. The Supreme Court held that a person must be informed of these rights at arrest. A person's statements can be used against them only if they waive these rights. Seems simple.
However, it's not quite as simple as it seems. Like all court decisions that interpret an individual's rights, those rights are limited to certain specific circumstances. For example, let's examine the First Amendment's right to freedom of speech. The First Amendment does not grant you the right to say anything you want without consequences. For example, if you slander someone you can be sued. If you yell “fire” in a crowded theater and someone is hurt in the rush to exit, you could be held criminally liable. Thus, the First Amendment does not grant an unlimited right to “free speech.”
Do Miranda Rights Ever Apply in Georgia DUI Cases?
As for the Miranda “right to remain silent,” it only applies when a person is in custody and the police are trying to elicit a confession. So, during a DUI arrest, it's extremely rare that Miranda would ever apply. DUI is a crime witnessed by the police, and almost all of the evidence is gathered prior to the arrest.
Also, the police do not need an admission of guilt in order to successfully prosecute a DUI case, nor do they typically receive such an admission or confession. In fact, most people arrested do the exact opposite of a confession. Most people feel perfectly sober and okay to drive because the alcohol affects their judgment.
When Would Miranda Apply in a DUI Case?
There are limited circumstances when a police officer would read a person's “Miranda rights.” When a person is in legal custody and then thereafter a DUI investigation ensues, Miranda must be read. A perfect example of this is when a person is arrested for Hit and Run and then the police officer notices that the arrestee was impaired.
A second example is when a police officer sees evidence of another crime before the DUI investigation begins, such as when the officer already knows a person's license was suspended or that they had a warrant out for their arrest for some other crime. Since the person is being arrested regardless of the DUI, Miranda would apply.
A third example is when a reasonable person would believe that they would not be free to leave. A few examples include when the police block their car from movement, or handcuff a suspect prior to a formal arrest, or when the police place a suspect in their patrol car for an extended period of time before formal arrest.
The most common example is when a police officer sees, in plain view, drugs in the automobile before the DUI investigation begins. In that situation, the driver is going to be arrested, regardless of the evidence of DUI. As a result, Miranda must be read.
Miranda is required in situations where a reasonable person would believe that they would not be free to leave. Our judges are charged with the task of determining what the mythical reasonable person would believe based on the “totality of the circumstances,” and that determination is the basis of endless argument amongst lawyers, judges, and appellate courts.
Does a Person Arrested For DUI in Georgia Have Any Rights?
"Miranda rights" notwithstanding, there are statutory rights that apply in all Georgia DUI cases. A statutory right is a right passed by the legislature and as a result can be amended or repealed. Presently, all persons arrested for DUI in Georgia are advised of their implied consent rights.
The Georgia Implied Consent Warning outlines a person's legal requirements to take a State-administered breath, blood, or urine test. Additionally, after a person submits to the State's test, they are advised that they have a right to their own independent test at their own expense.
Failure to correctly advise a person of their Implied Consent Rights can create potential legal defenses for your Georgia DUI Defense Attorney. That is why your Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer will file the appropriate motions to challenge to sufficiency of the rights read in their client's DUI case and all other police procedures that were used in the case.
There Are Many Legal and Factual Defenses to Your DUI:
If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, DUI in Metro-Atlanta, or DUI in North Georgia, call our office 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Remember, you only have 10 days to appeal the automatic suspension of your driver's license. If that appeal is not filed, you can lose your license for up to 12 months, without a restricted license or limited permit.
Richard Lawson is a former DUI prosecutor with nearly 20 years experience defending those accused of DUI. He is the most reviewed Georgia DUI Defense Attorney on Avvo. Call now. Your best defense begins here.