Miranda Warnings in DWI cases

“The police didn’t read me my rights” is something many DWI defendants tell us. Most people are surprised to learn how limited the Miranda protections are in Texas. It is important that you understand how Miranda warnings work in a DWI case. That is, when do the police have to tell you that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney?

The general rule is that a police officer does not have a duty to give Miranda warnings unless the suspect is “in custody.” What constitutes “in custody” can take many shapes and forms. For example, when a police officer stops a driver for a traffic violation, this does not yet constitute a situation where the driver is “in custody.” If the driver is answering questions at the request or urging of a police officer, the officer possesses no duty to Mirandize Any police officer statements regarding sobriety tests, information on how to perform sobriety tests, or questions about the defendant’s understanding of his or her rights do not require a Miranda warning. In fact, The Supreme Court has held that until the police officer determines “manifests an intent to arrest” the driver, there is no duty to Mirandize the driver. (McRae v. State, 152 S.W.3d 739, 743(Tex. App.—Houston[1st. Dist.] 2004, no pet.).

The key language in determining whether a driver is in custody or not is whether or not the police officer took the driver into custody or deprived the driver of freedom in any way (e.g., “Have you been drinking tonight?”). It is important to remember that any and all voluntary responses to police questioning are not considered interrogation and therefore do not require Miranda warnings.

It is important to remember that once a motorist asks for an attorney, the police cannot use video or audio evidence of any of the subsequent statements from the motorist because a defendant may not be punished for exerting his or her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. This rule helps ensure that a jury is not biased by the fact that a defendant sought legal representation in a DWI case.

At Guest and Gray Law Firm we have the experience you need to fight your DWI case. If you believe the police violated your rights we can help. Our DWI defense team has decades of experience in Dallas, Rockwall and Kaufman County DWI cases. Our criminal defense team includes two former Kaufman County prosecutors, two former Kaufman County Bar Presidents, and the current State Bar Director for Kaufman and Rockwall County. No other firm has the same level of success or depth of local experience.

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