FIFTY YEARS LATER: MIRANDA V. ARIZONA AND DWIS

It was fifty years ago, in June of 1966, that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. Few judicial decisions have had the impact that one did, and the impact goes far beyond the legal world of DWI and other criminal charges.

There is probably not a person old enough to have watched television who does not know about Miranda rights. We have all seen the police officer put handcuffs on a suspect and then “read them their rights.” In fact, as I write this you are probably reciting those rights in your head now.

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say or do may be held against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to an attorney, and have him present while you are questioned;
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
  • You can exercise these rights at any time.

This is a basic overview of these important rights, but what do they mean? Should a DWI suspect use them? What happens if the police violate an of these rights? These and other questions are important to anybody facing the possibility of a DWI arrest.

Exercising Miranda Rights

An interesting result of the Supreme Court handing down the Miranda decision all those years ago is the startling small number of people who actually exercise the rights. Study after study shows that when a person is being arrested by the police, and informed of their Miranda rights, only a small percentage of people will remain silent or ask for an attorney.

There are a number of reasons that suspects facing DWI or other charges will not remain silent once the police start asking questions. Human beings are social animals, and when people seemed concerned or interested we are likely to engage with them and give them information. Humans also often respect authority, so when a police officer begins asking questions of us we want to do as we are told and answer those questions.

Knowing all this, however, a DWI suspect should think twice before forgoing his Miranda rights and speaking with the police in connection with a DWI investigation. Remember that the police have a job to do, and once they suspect a person of committing a crime, their primary focus and job is to get a conviction. All too often we have seen what happens in that pursuit, and the Miranda rights are there to protect DWI and other suspects from abuses.

Violating Miranda Rights

What happens if the police ignore a DWI suspect who invokes his Miranda rights? What should happens is any information that is obtained by violating those rights should never make it to court to get a conviction. But getting to that point requires at least two things happen. One, an experienced lawyer recognizes that your rights were violated, and two, that lawyer argues to the judge that your rights were violated and any resulting evidence should be suppressed.

At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we honor the fifty-year anniversary of the Miranda decision. As your DWI defense attorneys, we will ensure that all of your rights are protected and defended. If you are facing DWI charges, contact us.