Many people believe that just because an officer doesn’t recite the Miranda warnings during a DUI stop their case will be dismissed. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While most people know that Miranda warnings are usually recited at some point, very few people know exactly when they are required during a DUI stop.
As a reminder of why we have the Miranda warnings in the first place, for incriminating statements to be voluntarily given, the person making those statements must know that they have a right not to say anything in the first place. Thus, the Miranda warnings are recited to ensure that a person knows that they have a right not to say anything.
The general rule is that the officer must advise a person of their right to remain silent before a custodial interrogation. This means advising them of the right after a person has been arrested, but before questions are asked.
When an officer initiates a traffic stop, even if the officer already suspects that the driver is under the influence, the driver is not under arrest. The period following a DUI stop is considered a “preliminary investigation,” not an arrest.
The arrest occurs when the handcuffs are slapped around the wrists and the driver is placed in the back of the officer’s squad car. Now Miranda warnings are required, but only if the officers question the driver after the arrest.
Questions asked during the preliminary investigation, on the other hand, are not in violation of the Miranda rule. This includes the standard questions during a DUI stop; “Where are you coming from?” “How many drinks have you had today?” “When was your last drink?”
The driver’s answers to these questions will most certainly be used against them.
However, just because the Miranda warnings are not required after a DUI stop doesn’t mean that a driver has to answer the questions. The right to remain silent exists at all times. Exercise it! Simply respond to any questions with, “I respectfully decline to answer any questions under the 5th amendment. Am I under arrest or am I free to leave?”