What Happens if the Police Don't Read Me My Rights?
If you or someone you know were arrested for a DUI, you may be expecting to hear the police officer read you your rights. Most people have practically memorized Miranda warnings from watching TV shows and movies. In cop shows, the police give a warning along the lines of “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you, etc.”
In a lot of these shows, the Miranda warning may come into play later, when the case gets thrown out because the police didn't give the suspect the warning. Unfortunately for your DUI arrest, that's usually not how a Miranda warning works. If the police didn't read you your Miranda warnings, it may have no impact on your case at all.
Let's look where the Miranda warnings came from. Miranda was the name of a man arrested in Arizona back in 1963. Ernesto Miranda was arrested by Phoenix police with some evidence pointing to a kidnap and rape case. The police interrogated Miranda, who eventually confessed to the crime. The police had Miranda sign his confession which included language that he understood his rights. The problem is that the police never told him what his rights were.
Miranda was not informed that he had the right to remain silent, or that he had the right to an attorney. Miranda's lawyer tried to get the confession thrown out, because it was not voluntarily given with an understanding of his rights. Eventually, the case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a close decision (5 to 4) the Court determined that a suspect has to be advised they have the right to remain silent and they have the right to an attorney before a custodial interrogation takes place.
Implied Consent in a DUI Case
The cases where it is important for the police to read a suspect their rights can involve something like a confession while in custody. How is a DUI different than other crimes which rely on a Miranda warning? DUI cases usually don't rely on confessions after a driver is in custody. Most of the information gathered takes place during the roadside stop, before the driver is arrested.
By the time the driver is arrested on suspicion of a DUI, the police officers already have a lot of evidence that the prosecutor will try and use in your criminal case. Much of this includes observations by the police officer. The police may testify that the driver was swerving, or braking erratically. They may testify that the driver smelled of alcohol, and they had slurred speech or there was an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Even if the driver incriminates himself by admitting that they were drinking, a roadside stop is generally not considered to be a custodial interrogation. This all generally takes place before a person is taken into custody, and the self-incriminating statement could be used against the driver in many cases.
However, this doesn't mean that the police can just ignore your rights, and don't need to give you warnings. There is a very important warning the police usually advise a driver of before they ask them to submit to a chemical test. The implied consent warning.
An implied consent warning should be given to the driver before the police try and collect a breath, blood or urine sample. After the warning is given and a sample is taken or refused, the prosecutor may use this information against the defendant in court. Many states have a similar implied consent law, that by having the privilege of driving on state roads and having a driver's license, you impliedly given consent to chemical testing if you are arrested for a DUI.
At the time the chemical test is requested the arresting officer is supposed to read the warning. If they summarize the warning and change or leave out some of the substance, then the warning may be inadequate, and insufficient to constitute consent. It is important to remember what the police officer said when giving the implied consent warning, which is supposed to include the following information:
Georgia law requires you to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial.
If you submit to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. (The specific number depends on the driver. For drivers under 21 the BAC number is lower, at 0.02%. For commercial drivers, the BAC is 0.04%.)
After first submitting to the required state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing.
Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests under the implied consent law?
If you refuse to submit to chemical testing, the Georgia Department of Driver Services may administratively suspend your license for a year. This occurs separately from the criminal court process, and you may have your license suspended even if you ultimately are found not guilty of a criminal DUI. The only way to fight this suspension is through requesting a hearing within only 30 days after your DUI arrest. Your Atlanta DUI lawyer will be able to request the ALS hearing, and let you know how it is different than the criminal DUI case, and why it is important to fight your suspension.
DUI Defense Lawyer
What the police officer said before you submitted to or refused a chemical test may affect your DUI. As experienced Atlanta DUI lawyers, we understand what a faulty or absent implied consent warning may mean for your case. Your arrest doesn't have to mean losing your driver's license. We will fight your criminal charges and the administrative license suspension. Contact our office today, so we can discuss your options, and how to avoid a DUI on your criminal record.