Most people in Texas have heard about Miranda warnings and are familiar with the general outline of the warnings through television and movie programs. While the language of these warnings is familiar to most Americans, many people do not understand the importance of these warnings or the guidelines surrounding their use. If you are facing charges after a DWI arrest, or if you want to make sure you’ll be protected in the future, it’s important that you understand your Miranda rights as well as the obligations of the police.
These warnings emerged following a major U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The purpose of the Supreme Court’s ruling is to protect people under arrest from coerced confessions and police violations of basic rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, particularly the right to protection against self-incrimination. These basic rights and warnings are as follows:
You have the right right to remain silent
If you make a statement, it can be used against you in court
You have the right to a lawyer and to a lawyer’s presence under interrogation
You can have a lawyer appointed to represent you if you cannot afford one
You can declare your right to be silent before or under interrogation, and the interrogation must then end
You can declare that you are invoking your right to a lawyer, and the interrogation must stop until your attorney is present.
Miranda warnings don’t need to be delivered unless you are considered to be in police custody and under interrogation. To be in police custody, you need to in some way be deprived of your freedom. In most cases, arrest is equivalent to custody. The Supreme Court has held that a traffic stop is not considered custody for these purposes, and so it is not necessary for police to deliver Miranda warnings at a traffic stop until there is an arrest.
Interrogation in this context means questions about a crime; it does not apply to asking for identification, for example. Miranda warnings are also considered to be persistent in many cases; thus, even if you are interrogated on multiple occasions, you are still considered to have received proper warnings if you received them the first time.
If you think a lack of Miranda warnings might affect your DWI case, talk to an experienced DWI lawyer who can help to protect your rights.