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Know Your Rights In A DWI Stop? Don’t Expect Police To Tell You

Anyone who is arrested by the police is supposed to have their rights read to them. Everyone knows that, right? Indeed, the words of the Miranda warning — “You have the right to remain silent” — are probably so much a part of our culture today that they’re better known than the Pledge of Allegiance.

What may be less appreciated is that in cases of suspected drunk driving, police are not obliged to administer the warning at the very start of an encounter. That is, as one recent FindLaw article notes, if you get pulled over by an officer for a traffic stop they aren’t bound to read you your rights.

They will, however, very likely ask you questions like, “Have you been drinking?” “How many drinks have you had tonight?” You might answer them. You might also be asked to submit to field sobriety and a breath test at the scene. You might go along.

You haven’t been detained yet and asking for your identification isn’t typically considered interrogation, so Miranda may not enter the scene. But you may have already provided all the evidence police need to make a driving under the influence arrest. And all the evidence is likely to be admissible in court.

Make no mistake. You do have the right to remain silent and the right to call an attorney and have one present before any questioning. But you would be remiss to think that if police didn’t “Mirandize” you at the time of a traffic stop you have clear grounds for having your case dismissed.

Charges of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs need to be taken seriously. What the best strategy may be in defense depends on your specific circumstances. For the protection of your rights and in the face of the severe consequences that can be suffered, you should have the benefit of legal counsel. Our firm stands ready to provide a free confidential consultation to explore how we can help.

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