DUI Charges and Miranda Rights

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DUI Charges and Miranda Rights: What You Need to Know

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

You’ve heard this recitation of the Miranda Warning/Rights maybe a couple thousand time.

We see it on T.V. and in the movies; officers arresting someone and immediately reading them their Miranda Rights. Unfortunately it is a very common misconception that a DUI case in South Carolina will be thrown out because an officer does not read a DUI suspect their Miranda Rights after a DUI stop. Unbeknownst to many, the law is very specific as to when Miranda Rights must be read.

In the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court said that a confession that is the result of an interrogation after someone is arrested is not voluntary if the suspect does not know that he or she has the right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment. And only voluntary confessions are allowed as evidence. Therefore, all suspects must be advised of their rights before a “custodial interrogation.” Therefore, for the Miranda Rights to apply, you must be in custody and the police must be asking you questions and eliciting answers.

Having said that, most of the questions asked during a DUI stop occur after a traffic stop, but before the person is arrested. Questions that occur during this time are merely for investigatory purposes. The officer cannot arrest someone for a DUI unless they have probable cause to believe that the person is driving drunk. The pre-arrest investigatory questions are aimed at obtaining this probable cause and you are not considered to be in custody.

“Where are you coming from? Where are you going to? Have you been drinking? How many drinks have you had? Have you taken any medication?”

Even though a person is not yet advised of their right to remain silent, they still need not answer the questions. In fact, you never need to speak with officers.

If the officer obtains the probable cause to believe that the person is driving drunk, either through incriminating answers to the pre-arrest questions, performance on field sobriety tests, or the officer’s observation of the signs of intoxication, they will conduct a DUI arrest.

Even after a person is arrested for DUI in South Carolina, the officer still need not read a person their Miranda Rights, although they almost always do. If the driver is arrested, the officer only needs to advise someone of their rights before they conduct any questioning.

And when that happens, God forbid, remember:

“I do not consent to any search, I am invoking my 5th Amendment right to remain silent, and I want my lawyer now.”

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