Thanks to popular television shows like Law and Order, we all know the words by heart: “you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” We have become so accustomed to hearing these warnings first required by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, that we believe that it is a routine part of every arrest. Many clients who have been arrested for driving under the influence believe the police have made a fundamental error for taking them to jail without reading them their rights. This sloppy police work will surely get them off the hook, right?! Not so.
Miranda warnings are intended to advise criminal defendants that they have a right not to respond to questions in the face of intimidating questioning by the police. However, law enforcement’s failure to Marandize a defendant in a DUI cases usually has no effect on the outcome of the case, because warnings must only be given while an accused is subject to custodial interrogation. The defendant has usually answered the how-many-drinks-have-you-had-tonight question long before he has actually been arrested.
The police also have no obligation to provide these warnings prior to extracting so-called “non-testimonial” incriminating evidence. Most of the evidence in a typical DUI case is – you guessed it – non-testimonial in nature. While it may seem like participating in a field sobriety test requested by a police officer is a way of having one’s body testify against their interest, the courts in Mississippi have not seen it that way. So, if you have been pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving, don’t expect to hear Miranda warnings before the officer starts accumulating evidence he will later use against you in court.