Published on:

Recent Cases Highlight Inconsistencies Regarding Miranda Rights in DUI Cases

It is a well-known fact that people taken into custody by the police must be advised of their right against self-incrimination via Miranda warnings. In some instances, however, an issue arises as to what constitutes a person being taken into police custody for purposes of evaluating whether incriminating statements should be precluded. Recently, two courts tasked with addressing this issue came to different conclusions, highlighting the inconsistencies of the rulings throughout the nation. If you live in Illinois and are charged with a DUI, it is essential to retain an assertive Illinois DUI attorney to aid you in protecting your rights.

Nevada Decision Regarding Incriminating Statements

Reportedly, in a recent Nevada appellate court case, the court addressed whether a defendant’s incriminating statements should be admissible at trial. In that case, the defendant was stopped by police while he was at a convenience store because he looked like someone the police were trying to find. He was removed from the store and questioned by the police, during which he admitted to drinking and driving. He was then arrested for DUI. He filed a motion to suppress his statements, which the trial court granted. The State appealed.

On appeal, it was noted that the defendant was not advised that he was not under arrest, and the court found that he was in custody for practical purposes. Thus, he should have been read his Miranda rights. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

California Decision Regarding Incriminating Statements

Conversely, in a recent California appellate case, the court affirmed a trial court ruling denying the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating statements made during field sobriety testing at a police station. In that case, the defendant was reportedly involved in a car accident, after which she was detained and handcuffed, and taken by the police to the police station due to suspicion of DUI. She submitted to field sobriety testing but refused to submit to chemical testing. She was not advised of her right against self-incrimination at any time.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with DUI, after which she filed a motion to suppress statements prior to her arrest due to the lack of Miranda warnings. The court denied the motion and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the court ruled that asking a DUI suspect to perform field sobriety tests is not an interrogation, but was part of the investigation. Further, the court stated that the police did not have probable cause to arrest the defendant prior to performing the tests. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Illinois Rulings Regarding Statements Made Prior to Miranda Warnings

The Illinois appellate courts have recently ruled similarly to the California court with regards to statements made in DUI cases, in that they have held that Miranda warnings are only necessary when a defendant is subject to custodial interrogation. In other words, when an officer has taken a person into custody and impaired his or her freedom of action in some way. Thus, the courts have held that Miranda warnings are not necessary before general investigatory questioning at the scene of a suspected DUI, nor does Miranda necessitate the preclusion of statements made by a defendant that are not in response to questioning.

Speak with a Seasoned DUI Attorney About Your Case

Criminal defendants are not without rights, including the right against self-incrimination. If you live in Illinois and are charged with a DUI due to statements you made prior to being advised of your rights it is crucial to speak with an experienced Illinois DUI attorney about your case and whether you may be able to have the State’s evidence against you precluded. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC is a knowledgeable attorney who will work diligently to help you seek the best result available under the facts surrounding your arrest. You can contact Mr. Harvatin through the online form or at 217.525.0520 to set up a confidential and free consultation regarding your case.