If you have been arrested for DUI, then you should have a slightly better grasp of what these Miranda rights mean.
We are all familiar with the television theatrics that portray the police reading rights to someone recently arrested. You need no legal training to know that “you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you …” If you have been arrested for drunk driving, then you should have a slightly better grasp of what these Miranda rights mean. More importantly, your DUI attorney should be very familiar with the rights Miranda gives you, as it relates to your arrest.
The United States Supreme Court protects you from answering police questions that may seriously compromise your legal defense. A person’s first instinct is to respond to police questioning to show a willingness to cooperate and to stay in good standing with the police. However, sometimes saying too much to show your good side can hurt your case in court. It is best to withhold information from the police that you feel is best answered with the assistance of an attorney. Be careful, however! Not every question the police ask is one you are not required to answer. In particular, questions that are administrative in nature and not designed to illicit information for your criminal prosecution, can be safely answered. For example, if the police have asked you for your address and phone number, you must provide such information: your answer does not injure your legal standing and aids the officer in inputting your information into his computer system. Other questions you should answer are ones that do not give away any of the facts about your case. If, for example, you are asked to provide your height and weight, feel free to answer these questions; they do not affect your case and show the officer your responsiveness to questions as well as a willingness to provide the officer information he requests.
There are other questions that may involve your medical history, including psychological history. You should have answered such questions, as these facts have little or no affect on the facts of your drunk driving case and are not likely to play a role in the prosecution of your case.
So how do you know what questions to answer and which questions to disregard? The law is complex is this area. However, the following question should help you determine if the question you answered should have been preceded by Miranda warnings. If the question posed to you has the affect, if you answered it, of helping the officer make his case against you, then there is a possibility that you should have been mirandized first. If you have not been “mirandized” before being asked such a question then your answer to the question may be inadmissible in court. Your attorney can determine if the answer to your question is not incriminating that Miranda is required.
Do not be confused, however; cooperating with the police can help you get through your arrest, but provided too much information without the ability to confer with a lawyer or remain silent could help the police fill in the blanks that exist in your case. Do not make the case against you! Let the police do their job the way the law requires them to do, without your help. You have a legal right to protect your freedom, and it is easier to protect your freedom when you keep to yourself and your attorney information that the police can materially use to prosecute their case against you. Do not be a victim of the officer’s careless use of the Miranda rule! Make sure your attorney understands Miranda and uses it to assist in your defense.