Maryland DUI/DWI Attorney. In many Maryland Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Impaired (DWI) cases the issue of a person’s Miranda Rights, that is when or if the rights were read, is central to the outcome of the case. In almost every DUI/DWI case, including one that I had this week in Baltimore County Maryland, the person makes incriminating statements throughout the arrest and booking process. In my initial meetings with both DUI/DWI clients as well as clients charged with more serious criminal cases, the issue of Miranda is very frequently raised by the clients. It is also an subject about which nearly everyone is misinformed about when and under what circumstances the police are required to read a person their Miranda Rights.
So, when and under what circumstances are the police required to read a person their Miranda rights? Most people wrongly believe that as soon as a person is placed under arrest, which they almost invariably define as the point at which they are handcuffed, the police are required to read them thier Miranda Rights. Although this is the common procedure on television, it is simply not how it is done in the real world. The police are only required to read a person their Miranda Rights in the context of a custodial interrogation. That means that the person must both be under arrest (or at least in custody) AND be under interrogation by the police. A common question that I get from my clients in DUI/DWI cases is why are the State is allowed to use incriminating statements that they made to the police prior being read their rights.
The typical situation is that a person is pulled over by the police. The officer smells alcohol and asks the person to step out of the car. In response to questioning or interrogation, the person admits that he or she was coming from a bar and had consumed 5 drinks while they were there. My clients frequently believe that their statements should be suppressed because the officer failed to read them their rights prior to asking those questions. Unfortunately the statements will be admissible because, although the person was under interrogation at the point when they made the incriminating statement, he or she was not in custody. The statements were made to the officer while he was investigating to determine whether or not he had probable cause to arrest the person for Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Impaired. As I said, Miranda is only implicated when a person is BOTH in custody and being interrogated.
I was presented with this exact situation in a case that I had in Baltimore County this week. My client had admitted to the officer that he had been at the Baltimore Raven’s game and consumed 6 beers. He did reasonably well on the field sobriety tests and refused the breathalyzer. He was convinced that his admission to drinking six beers would be suppressed because the officer did not read him his Miranda Rights until he was arrested and taken back to the station. He was also convinced that he would be found not guilty without that statement. I told him that I agreed with him that were it not for the statement that he had a good shot at an acquittal but had to break the news to him that because he was not yet in custody that his statement would most certainly not be suppressed.