Every television-watching American knows about Miranda v. Arizona, and most have the following misunderstanding about criminal law (including O.V.I./D.U.I. law): “The officer never issued Miranda warnings; doesn’t that mean they have to dismiss my case?”
No. That’s not what it means.
Here is what Miranda says:
To summarize, we hold that, when an individual is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom by the authorities in any significant way and is subjected to questioning, the privilege against self-incrimination is jeopardized. Procedural safeguards must be employed to protect the privilege, and unless other fully effective means are adopted to notify the person of his right of silence and to assure that the exercise of the right will be scrupulously honored, the following measures are required. He must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that, if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires. Opportunity to exercise these rights must be afforded to him throughout the interrogation. After such warnings have been given, and such opportunity afforded him, the individual may knowingly and intelligently waive these rights and agree to answer questions or make a statement. But unless and until such warnings and waiver are demonstrated by the prosecution at trial, no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him.
Here is what Miranda means: if you were questioned while in custody, and if the officer did not give Miranda warnings, statements you made cannot be used against you at trial. The officer’s failure to give Miranda warnings, however, does not automatically make the entire case invalid (if only it were that easy…).
Although the rule in Miranda seems pretty clear, applying the rule has proven to be a little more complicated. Applying the rule in the context of O.V.I. (D.U.I.) stops will be the subject of a post when I have more time. Right now, I need to watch Grey’s Anatomy so I can understand medical procedures.