Miranda Rights During a Cateret County DWI Stop

A police car pulling over a driver for DWI

North Carolina law enforcement and throughout the United States are legally required to give you your Miranda warning when placing you under arrest. When reading Miranda rights, the officer must remind the defendant of specific constitutional rights. When law enforcement officers fail to give suspects their Miranda rights when required, any evidence discovered against them may be thrown out by a judge.

If you or your loved one has been arrested for a DWI, it’s important that you understand your constitutional rights, including your Miranda right. Attorney Joel Hancock of Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, has extensive experience defending clients charged with DWIs in North Carolina. He has an in-depth knowledge of North Carolina’s DWI laws. He uses his experience to develop an effective criminal defense strategy to pursue the best outcome possible in your case. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. 

Understanding Miranda Rights

Police officers must provide suspects with a Miranda warning before interrogating them while they are in custody or arresting a suspect. Doing so protects their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

In the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that a suspect’s interrogation was coercive since he wasn’t informed of his right to an attorney. As part of the ruling, the Supreme Court stated that the suspect would have been less forthcoming when talking to the police if he’d been advised of his legal rights.

When giving Miranda warnings, police officers must clearly remind suspects of their Constitutional rights. The police officer must instruct the suspect that he or she has a right to remain silent. Additionally, they need to tell the suspect that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. Finally, suspects must be instructed about their right to an attorney and that if they can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to provide them with a legal defense. 

Do Police Officers Forget to Read Suspects Their Miranda Rights?

North Carolina police officers question suspects for DWI every day. While most police officers read suspects their Miranda rights, a handful fail to do so. If you’ve been charged with a DWI without having your Miranda rights read, reaching out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is essential. Your defense attorney can begin investigating your case and determining whether the statements you made can be tossed out. 

Was I Entitled to Have Miranda Rights Read to Me?

Whether or not a person has Miranda rights during a DWI stop in North Carolina depends on whether the police officer placed him or her under arrest. Police officers are not always required to read your Miranda rights to arrest you for a DWI. A police officer can arrest you for a DWI in North Carolina, transport you to the police station, book you, hold you in jail, and take you in front of a judge without reading you your Miranda rights. Not reading your Miranda rights won’t invalidate the arrest by making it illegal or unconstitutional.

However, failing to read your Miranda rights will affect whether any statements you made can be held against you and used to convict you in court. For example, officers can interrogate a suspect without reading him or her Miranda rights as long as they don’t intend to use the information provided by the suspect during the court interrogation. 

When a police officer fails to read a suspect’s Miranda rights, the suspect may say something incriminating, such as, “I had eight beers before I got into the car.” The prosecutor uses that statement against the defendant. Doing so would be a violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights. 

When Does Questioning Rise to an Interrogation

Interrogation isn’t simply asking a few questions. It also includes words that the police officer knows will likely provoke an incriminating statement. For example, if you go through a DWI checkpoint and a police officer asks what you’ve been doing that night, the questioning won’t rise to the level of interrogation. 

However, if the officer asks you to get out of the vehicle and starts asking you questions that could lead to you admitting that you were driving while intoxicated, you are probably being interrogated and entitled to have your Miranda rights read to you. A court will consider you in custody when a reasonable person in your shoes wouldn’t believe that he or she is free to leave. If you aren’t sure whether you’re in custody, it’s best to avoid saying anything incriminating. 

In North Carolina, Most DWI Evidence Is Obtained During a DWI Arrest

Most evidence gathered in DWI prosecutions is gathered during the arrest process. Police interrogations aren’t common in DWI cases. For that reason, most police officers will read suspects’ Miranda rights before arresting them in case anything they say could be useful against the suspect in court. There is a fine line that officers must uphold. If you’ve been arrested for a DWI in North Carolina and the officer never read you your Miranda rights, it’s crucial that you speak to an attorney. 

Should the prosecution plan on using any statements you made during or after the arrest to convict you, your attorney can request that the judge toss out all of the statements you made that could incriminate you. Depending on the facts of your case, having this evidence tossed out could result in a court dismissing the charges against you. For example, if the prosecution plans to rely heavily on your incriminating statements, they may drop the case, knowing they won’t be able to convict you.

Reach out to a North Carolina DWI Attorney Today

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we are committed to providing excellent legal defense for defendants facing DWI and other criminal charges. Attorney Joel Hancock will investigate your case and determine whether your constitutional rights, including your Miranda rights during a DWI stop, have been violated. The sooner you reach out to an experienced attorney, the better. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation and learn more about how we can provide you with an excellent legal defense.