Last year, the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts ruled that police
do not have to give a Miranda warning to suspected drunk drivers before
they take a breathalyzer test. The state’s highest court determined
that the chemical breath test is not a “critical part” of
the criminal investigation of a suspected drunk driver and, as such, does
not offer protections against self-incrimination engrained in the state
and federal constitutions.
The court left intact a 27-year-old legal precedent since a 1989 SJC ruling
known as Commonwealth v. Brazelton. In that ruling, the SJC determined
asking a driver to perform a chemical breath test did not prompt self-incrimination
concerns, and law enforcement did not have to provide Miranda warnings.
The court states that the written notice police give to suspected drunk
drivers who are deciding whether to take a breathalyzer test is warning
enough, and Miranda warnings are not required.
Miranda Warnings & DUI Laws in California
In California, police do
not need to read you your Miranda rights when you are initially pulled over for
DUI. When a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence, he
or she will conduct a DUI investigation before determining to make an
arrest or not.
A DUI investigation involves the following:
- Questioning and observation to determine signs of intoxication
- Field sobriety tests
- A preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) breath test
Since an arrest hasn’t been officially made, questions during DUI
investigations are often not considered to be “custodial interrogations.”
Hence, the officer generally does not need to read you the Miranda warning.
However, it is important to understand that—even though the officer
will not have read you your Miranda rights—you do have the right
to remain silent during the DUI investigation.
If you were recently arrested for a DUI in Ventura County,
contact The Law Offices of Robert F. Sommers and schedule a
free consultation today.