DUI & Miranda Rights in Georgia
One issue that will almost inevitably arise in a hard fought DUI case centers on the arresting officer’s failure to read the driver his Miranda rights. Most people mistaken believe that if a defendant was not read his Miranda rights the case will automatically be dismissed; however, it is not that simple.
Miranda rights, from the landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, protect defendants from self incriminating statements made during a custodial interrogation and without the aid of an attorney. Miranda does not protect defendants from any statement made to police before they have been read their Miranda rights. A defendant’s Miranda protections only kick in when a defendant is: 1) in custody (not free to leave) and 2) subject to interrogation.
To illustrate here are a few examples:
John Smith has just been arrested for DUI, placed in handcuffs, and seated in the back of a squad car. The officer returns to the driver’s seat and begins to transport John to the detention center. (John is clearly in custody) Agitated and uncomfortable, John yells at the officer “my wife is going to leave me if she finds out I have been drinking again, I was supposed to be at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting tonight.” (John has made a very incriminating statement but he was not being interrogated, the office was simply transporting him to the detention center) As John was not subject to interrogation, his statement to the officer could be used against him in court.
John Doe has just been arrested for DUI and placed in handcuffs. (Again John is clearly in custody) Angry, John curses at the officer. In response the officer asks, how much did you drink tonight? (The officer is asking a question, that if answered could clearly illicit an incriminating statement, while John is in custody) John answers “too much” before cursing at the officer again. This time since John was both in custody and being interrogated his statement to the officer can be excluded from a trial.
Jane Smith has just been stopped for weaving. The officer approaches Jane’s car and asks for her license and asks if she has had anything to drink. Jane begins to cry and says “I am so, so, sorry. Please don’t arrest me. I only had glasses of wine. I thought I was ok to drive. I just live 1 mile from here. Please let me go home.” While Jane has been stopped by a police officer and can not yet leave she has not been arrested, placed in handcuffs, or told she will be arrested so she is not yet in custody. Accordingly, even though Jane was responding to questions from the officer her statements could be used against her in Court.
Securing an Attorney who can properly identify and exclude incriminating evidence that was secured in violation of your Miranda rights can prove to be vital to winning your case. Call our office and speak to an Attorney today
Why Do You Need A DUI Lawyer
I have seen unrepresented Defendants plead guilty to winnable DUI cases with flaws that would be obvious to someone familiar with DUI law.
I recently witnessed a lawyer plead a client to a DUI charge based on a blood test that should have been excluded from evidence. However, that general practice lawyer didn't seem to be aware of the case that would have kept the test out.
I have even watched as an attorney chose the wrong subsection of the DUI statute to have a client plea under and cost the client a 12 month license suspension with no temporary license; apparently, oblivious to the difference in treatment under each subsection.
DUI lawyers or lawyers who devote a large portion of their practice to defending clients charged with DUI spend a great deal of time dealing with issues and caselaw specific to DUI. Those lawyers seek out special training and education, like myself most have received the same instruction in field sobriety as police officers. DUI Attorney's spend their time discussing the topic with other DUI attorney's, and spend their money on books and materials on the same.
When your freedom, your ability to drive, your job, and reputation are on the line - when it matters most - seek out an Attorney who devotes a substantial amount of time to defending DUI cases, who seeks out DUI specific training, and understands the issues you are facing.
If you have been charged with a DUI contact Attorney Josh Teague today to schedule a consultation and see how he can help you.