Do Police Have to Read Miranda Rights When Arresting for DUI in Salt Lake?

DUI stands for driving under the influence.  It’s also called drunk driving or intoxicated driving, and can be charged due to alcohol use, drug use, or both.  Whatever you call it, it’s a common crime in Utah, leading to thousands of arrests every year.  Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a position where you are under arrest for DUI; but if you do, you should know about your legal rights when it happens. Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer Darwin Overson explains whether the police have to read you your Miranda Rights when you are arrested for drunk driving in Utah.

What is the Miranda Warning? What Are Your Miranda Rights?

According to the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, just over 10,900 people were arrested for intoxicated driving in Utah in 2014.  About three quarters of these people were male, and more than 10% were under the legal drinking age of 21.  Most of the arrests – nearly 72% – took place in Weber County, Utah County, Davis County, or Salt Lake County.

Regardless of where in Utah a DUI arrest occurs, the arrestee has certain legal rights.  In fact, you’re probably already familiar with some of them.  Thanks to movies and TV, you almost certainly know that “You have the right to remain silent,” that “Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law,” and that “You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning.”

Of course, movies and TV aren’t usually the best source of legal information.  However, in this case, the quote is actually lifted straight from reality.  It’s called the Miranda Warning, and the rights enumerated within it are your “Miranda Rights.”

The name comes from a 1966 court case called Miranda v. Arizona, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution could not use the defendant, Ernesto Miranda’s, confession to rape and kidnapping because the interrogating officers failed to warn Miranda that he had the right to an attorney, as well as the right against self-incrimination, which are respectively based in the Sixth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The language of the Miranda Warning is rather straightforward, so the question here is not what your Miranda Rights are.  The real question is whether those rights must be read to you during a DUI arrest – and what might happen if they aren’t.

What Happens if the Police Fail to Read Your Miranda Rights During a DUI Arrest in Utah?

It is commonly said that if the police fail to read you the Miranda Warning, your case must be dismissed.  In reality, it’s more complex.  In some instances, failure to read the Miranda Warning has significant bearing on the outcome of a case.  An experienced West Valley City DUI lawyer like Darwin Overson can determine how the Miranda Warning applies to your case, and fight aggressively to have evidence suppressed where appropriate.

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The police are only required to read you your Miranda Rights if you are in custody, before you start being interrogated.  Consider the following two hypothetical scenarios:

  • Scenario A – An officer notices Person A driving erratically, and pulls them over.  Before the officer can say anything, Person A starts talking about how they only had one beer, or how it’s been hours since they had anything to drink.  Person A was not under arrest when they made that statement, so it can be used against them in court later, even if the Miranda Warning was not read.
  • Scenario B – An officer notices Person B driving erratically, and pulls them over.  After conducting field sobriety tests, the officer places the Person B under arrest for DUI and puts them in the back of the police car.

Understandably anxious, Person B starts to make the same statement as Person A – that they only had one beer, or that it’s been hours since they had a drink.  But because Person B was in custody when that statement was made, the officer’s failure to read the Miranda Warning beforehand could potentially render the statement inadmissible in court later.  Evidence arising from a Miranda violation can potentially be suppressed (meaning it cannot be used at trial) because it is “fruit of the poisonous tree,” a concept that’s explained in our article on your rights during a police interrogation.

Contact a DUI Attorney in Utah if You Were Charged with Drunk Driving

It is critically important to consult with a Sandy DUI defense attorney or South Jordan DUI lawyer if you or a family member has been charged with intoxicated driving in Salt Lake County.  The repercussions of Miranda violations vary from case to case, and revolve around nuanced legal questions: Were you in police custody? Were you actually going to be interrogated?  When was the breathalyzer test administered?  What other defenses might be applicable in your case? An experienced DUI attorney will be able to analyze these questions and develop a legal strategy suited to your case.

If you or one of your loved ones was charged with DUI in Salt Lake City, you may be interested in reading about DUI charges in Utah for more information.  You should also contact our law offices for a free and confidential legal consultation.  Don’t wait until it’s too late: call (801) 758-2287 to start discussing your situation today.