Driving Under the Influence (DUI) prosecutions in Florida are serious business, as the repercussions of a conviction have very important short- and long-term ramifications. One of the aspects of a DUI arrest in Florida that can make or break a prosecution is whether the defendant was properly advised of his or her rights at the time of arrest. This article will explore the importance of the Miranda warnings in DUI prosecutions and what you need to know if you find yourself being arrested for DUI in Florida.
In every arrest in Florida, law enforcement is obligated to advise the arrestee of his or her constitutional rights. This is most commonly accomplished using the Miranda warnings, which are the product of a 1966 Supreme Court case.
Thanks to police procedurals on television, most people can state the Miranda warnings, which advise an arrestee that they have a right to remain silent, anything they say from that point forward can and will be used against them, and that they have the right to representation from an attorney.
Typically, law enforcement’s failure to advise an arrestee of his rights upon arrest is fatal to that prosecution, as any evidence obtained during questioning from that point is not admissible in court. But Miranda warnings are required in a very specific situation, which is
A person must be in custody for the Miranda warnings to apply. Custody is the point at which an individual is not free to leave the interaction with law enforcement. Interrogation is when law enforcement either expressly questions an individual or when law enforcement act in such a way that an incriminating response may be made.
As a result, there are still several kinds of interactions that may occur between law enforcement and an individual that do not require law enforcement to advise that individual of their rights. Such interactions include routine questions asked at a traffic stop, field sobriety tests, or voluntary statements offered to law enforcement that are made outside the context of a custodial arrest.
In addition, simply stating the Miranda warnings to an arrestee does not necessarily mean that law enforcement has properly advised a suspect of his or her rights. If the arresting officer repeated the Miranda warnings too quickly for the suspect to understand or otherwise gave them in an unclear manner or if the officer does not confirm with the suspect that he or she understood the warnings they were just given may open the door for a skilled defense attorney to get a great deal of the evidence against his or her client thrown out of court.
It’s also important to note that a missing or improper administration of the Miranda warnings are not necessarily a golden ticket to acquittal for the defendant. Failing to properly administer the Miranda warnings simply gives the defense grounds to request that the evidence collected in custodial interrogations after that point be inadmissible against the defendant. It does not affect any evidence collected prior to arrest or any evidence that may be uncovered separate from custodial interrogation of the defendant.