For those unfamiliar with the working process of the criminal justice system, it could be surprising to discover that the significance of one’s constitutional rights is often dependent on the crime one has been arrested for.
This is never more true than in the legal circumstances typically found within drunk driving prosecutions and constitutionally protected “Miranda” warnings.
Such required rights advisements have been made known to generations of Americans conditioned through television and movies as commonplace during the course of police arrest procedure.
The Miranda decision was decided in the 1970’s by the United States Supreme Court and has been instrumental in the suppression of incriminating statements within state prosecutions nationwide.
The decision focuses upon the danger for abuse inherent when unchecked police authority allows for those arrested to feel compelled to make incriminating statements that can later be utilized in prosecutions against them.
Pre Miranda, those put within police custody often suffered both physical and mental abuse at the hands of police agencies who believed the ends of police misconduct justified the means of securing incriminating confessions that could be used to imprison those who they decided were guilty of a given crime.
As a result, in criminal prosecutions where the motive of the targeted individual for prosecution plays a crucial element of the crime charged, an obtained confession standing alone could often serve to shortchange justice and imprison a coerced individual based upon the compelling evidence of an admission seemingly against one’s legal interest.
In such cases, without the knowledge that one being interrogated has rights and the ability to cease police interrogation where not put under arrest, innocent people would tragically be fooled or coerced into making false confessions as a means by which stop further, often relentless, questioning.
Absent being placed in custody for a crime that has been committed, the Miranda decision compelled police to advise all questioned suspects of their respective rights to remain silent as anything said to police under questioning could be used in a prosecution against them.
Through the additional safeguard that all such suspects have the right to consult with an attorney prior to such questioning, the Supreme Court has fashioned a judicial opinion that has withstood the test of time in attempting to ensure that all Americans are free of police misconduct during the course of a potential police investigation.
However, with that said, the nature of the dui arrest is not one that often lends itself to contested Miranda litigation within a court of law. The reason: because within dui prosecutions the most compelling evidence typically utilized by state prosecutors is not that which is spoken, but by the actions of the alleged offense committed.
The customary legal attack in the area of dui arrests are therefore not centered on whether legal rights were explained by an arresting dui officer. Rather, legal attention focuses upon probable cause for the stop, performance of field sobriety testing and most importantly, the results of breath or blood alcohol testing; none of which relies upon the spoken word of the suspect, but the credibility of police observation and the admissibility of test results.
Since the above referenced prosecutorial requirements to convict within dui cases are not based upon evidence uttered by the accused, nor motive, whether or not Miranda warnings were enunciated to a dui suspect is not nearly as vital as in other criminal cases. For even if statements of the accused motorist can be excluded from evidence within a dui prosecution, such a statement’s potential significance is minimal against the weight of proposed breath/blood draw and/or field sobriety test results.
Significantly, many people during the course of an Indiana dui investigation unfortunately mistake their legal rights to an attorney in refusing to submit to breath tests prior to consulting with legal counsel.
Because such a test is not based upon any spoken word or verbal utterances, the right to an attorney under Miranda does not attach to a legal compulsion to submit to breath tests in drunk driving cases.
Further, in Indiana the ability to operate a motor vehicle is not deemed a constitutional right, but a privilige to which constitutional rights do not necessarily attach. Because of this, the ability to maintain an operational license in Indiana is conditioned upon all applicable motorists abiding by all administrative laws of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
One of these administrative requirements of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is that a driver who fails to submit to a breath test when investigated for drunk driving will suffer a mandatory drivers license suspension. This is so no matter whether the driver is later found not guilty of an alleged drunk driving accusation charged against them.