Many people are familiar with the famous Miranda warnings, in which police read a litany of rights to a person under arrest. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…” These warnings are a staple of television and movie police dramas and have become a standard expectation of Americans dealing with police in arrest situations.
However, in Texas, many people arrested and facing charges for Driving While Intoxicated report that the police never gave them a Miranda warning and never read them their rights. Because of the nature of DWI arrests, many people are confused about these warnings – and about what they have to say to police when pulled over.
In general, police must deliver Miranda warnings when a person is held “in custody.” However, if you are pulled over by the side of the road for a traffic stop, this is generally not considered to be “in custody” of the police. Questions asked by the police by the roadside do not constitute an interrogation in custody in most circumstances. When a police officer asks about a sobriety test, a breath test or a blood test, Miranda warnings do not need to be delivered. There is often no legal requirement to deliver these warnings until the police officer actively intends to arrest the driver or somehow deprives the driver of freedom. Voluntary responses to police questions are not considered interrogation.
The police don’t have to tell you that you have a right to ask for a lawyer in a DWI case before performing sobriety tests or asking roadside questions. However, with or without those warnings, you should know that you have the right to an attorney. If you ask for a lawyer, your subsequent statements can’t be videotaped or audiotaped for evidence against you. If you’re being pulled over for DWI, you have the right to ask for a lawyer and protect your legal rights.
Even more, just because police can ask you questions before an arrest without Miranda warnings, this does not mean that they can ignore your rights. If you’ve been arrested, you must be read the proper Miranda warnings. You have rights under the Texas and U.S. Constitution as an accused DWI defendant, and you need a lawyer to help defend your rights in the case of any violations.