Why Were You Not Read Your Rights When You Were Arrested for Drinking and Driving in Florida?
If you were arrested in Florida for drunk driving, there is a good chance your rights were not read to you at any point. Why is this the case? In short, the reason why the police do not always read you your Miranda Rights when investigating you for DUI in Florida is because the police claim that they are not legally obligated to.
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What Are Miranda Rights?
Your Miranda Rights refer to your constitutional protection against self-incrimination. You have probably heard some version of a Miranda Warning on TV, a movie, or from an actual officer. A Miranda Warning will sound like the following or a close variation:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
These rights exist because the American Constitution protects you from verbally incriminating yourself when under investigation. As a result, Miranda Rights ensures your right to:
- Remain silent when being questioned by law enforcement
- Have an attorney present to represent you during an interrogation
The elements that form your Miranda Rights have existed since the inception of the American government, but the practice of a policeman or woman reading you your rights prior to an arrest or interrogation originates from a Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona in 1966.
The outcome of this court case established the principle that a police officer must read you your rights prior to interrogating you while in custody. Additionally, prosecutors cannot use your silence as evidence of guilt in a trial. This practice was created to maintain the notion that a defendant is “innocent until proven guilty” because the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the prosecutors in the United States.
When Are My Miranda Rights Supposed to be Read to Me in Florida?
Your Miranda Rights must be read to you when an officer conducts a “custodial interrogation” on you. A custodial interrogation is when a suspect enters police custody and is subsequently interrogated for the purposes of eliciting an incriminating response. The Supreme Court has established that one is in police custody when he or she is deprived of significant freedoms such as the freedom to leave.
With that being said, are your Miranda Rights supposed to be read to you while a cop is investigating you for DUI? Well, let us evaluate that question according to the elements that establish a custodial interrogation.
When a police officer pulls you over and you are on the side of the road, would you say you feel free to leave at any time? Probably not. In that instance, it would seem as if you are in police custody according to the definition of “custody” used by the Supreme Court. Then, the only factor that needs to be determined, is whether or not you are being interrogated when the police question you during a DUI investigation.
Is it Considered a Custodial Interrogation When the Police Ask Me Questions on the Side of the Road?
Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, this question is tricky to answer and is still often contested in court. The answer truly lies in a gray area of the law. For example, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation and the officer believes you are impaired, Florida law permits the officer to ask you basic questions in order to confirm or dispel their suspicion.
The issue, however, is at what point does “basic questioning” escalate to a full-on interrogation?
The examples the Fort Lauderdale DUI Task Force protocols give as basic questions are:
- “Where have you been”
- “Where are you going”
- “Have you been drinking or using drugs”
- “When was your last drink and how much did you have”
Perhaps the first two questions are basic in nature, but the last two certainly seem geared to elicit an incriminating response. This is especially true considering that such questions, when answered, often turn into follow-up questions such as:
- “What kind of drink was it”
- “When was the last time you ate”
- “What drugs have you been using”
At what point did this conversation go from basic questions to a criminal custodial interrogation? Since the answer is often unclear, a savvy DUI defense attorney can defend you by filing a motion to suppress the evidence the officer obtained during this questioning by claiming you were unlawfully interrogated.
Furthermore, an officer is still not required to give you a Miranda Warning prior to asking you to complete Field Sobriety Exercises. Sometimes they do not even mention that these exercises are voluntary.
This seems to undermine the principle behind the practice of reading Miranda Rights because the warning makes you aware that you need not incriminate yourself and give law enforcement evidence to use against you in court. Instead, an officer will ask you to complete the exercises without reading you your rights and then proceed to use your performance as evidence against you.
Although this practice does not seem fair, keep in mind that you can still invoke your right to remain silent when investigated for DUI even when you are not invited to by the officer. Additionally, you can hire a DUI defense attorney who can fight your charge.
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