Police Car Pulling Over a Suspected DWI DriverIf you are arrested in Mecklenburg County for DWI, you must understand when the police are required to give you your Miranda rights. They may not have to give you this warning right away.

However, if they failed to tell you about your Miranda rights when they were required to, you may have a strong defense that can help you get the charges dropped or reduced to a less serious offense. To obtain the best outcome in your case, you should retain an experienced DWI attorney in Charlotte immediately after your arrest.

 What Are Your Miranda Rights?

The Supreme Court established that the police must inform individuals of their constitutional right not to incriminate themselves under the Fifth Amendment in Miranda vs. Arizona in 1966. It is a warning law enforcement officers must give to arrestees after they are arrested before interrogating them. Two conditions must be met for the police to be required to provide you with this warning:

  • You are in custody and are not free to leave.
  • The police want to conduct a post-arrest interrogation of you.

While there are no specific words that must be spoken to make a Miranda warning valid, a police officer must inform you of the following:

  • You have a right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you in court.
  • You have a right to talk to a lawyer and to have them present when the police interrogate you.
  • If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you if you ask for this.

When Must the Police Give You Your Miranda Warnings When You Are Stopped for DWI?

The police do not have to give you your Miranda warnings when they pull you over for DWI or stop you at a DWI security checkpoint because you would not be in custody. They can question you and use any statements you make against you. They would be permitted to do the following:

  • Ask you to provide your driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Ask you to perform a field sobriety test
  • Ask you to perform an initial breathalyzer test
  • Ask you questions about whether you have been consuming alcohol and where you are coming from
  • Observe you for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, the odor of alcohol on your breath, and bloodshot eyes

In addition, the police are not required to immediately give you your Miranda warnings when they arrest you. They would only be required to inform you of these warnings if these two conditions are met:

  • They arrest you.
  • They are going to interrogate you.

Can You Exercise Your Miranda Rights Before the Police Inform You of Your Rights?

Yes, you can and should exercise your right to remain silent when you are first stopped for DWI. In North Carolina, you must give your name and address and present your driver’s license if the police officer requests it. You should also get out of your vehicle if the police ask you to.

However, you are not required to answer the officer’s questions. When invoking your right to remain silent, you should do so politely and say something like:

  • I am exercising my right to remain silent.
  • I do not want to answer your questions until I talk to a lawyer.

What Happens if the Police Officer Fails to Give You Your Miranda Warnings?

Unfortunately, your case will not automatically be dismissed if law enforcement officials fail to give you your Miranda warnings. However, your criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence to exclude any statements you made after the police were required to advise you of your Miranda rights.

If your statements or confession are ruled inadmissible by the judge, this could weaken the prosecutor’s case against you. This might help your attorney obtain a favorable plea bargain for you or win your case at trial if you have other strong defenses to the DWI charges you face.


Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer