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Your Constitutional Rights Upon an OWI Arrest in Michigan


If you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (OWI) in Michigan, the police must read you a Miranda warning upon soliciting incriminating statements that may be used against you in a court of law.

Read on to learn more about what your Miranda rights are and how they are applied during the administration of field sobriety tests in Ann Arbor.

What are Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning (also known as Miranda rights), is a warning that is required to be given by all law enforcement officials to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial situation) before they are interrogated to inform them about their constitutional rights. A suspect's rights consist of the following:

  1. You have the right to remain silent;
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law;
  3. You have the right to an attorney;
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you; and
  5. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.

Note, a police officer is not required to provide you with a Miranda warning immediately after he or she arrests you. Police officers are required to read you a Miranda warning once they take you into custody and attempt to solicit (interrogate) incriminating statements from you to use against you at trial.

The interrogation can occur in jail, in a public place, in the police vehicle, or at the scene of the crime. The police are required to obtain your consent prior to any interrogation while in custody. If you provide your consent (which you do not have to do) the statements you make may be used against you.

OWI Field Sobriety Tests

No Miranda warning is usually given to drunk driving suspects during the administration of field sobriety tests. This is due to the fact that the suspect is not in police custody. Further, a Miranda warning is not provided during a field sobriety test since it consists of physical conduct and not testimonial or verbal statements.

Police officers are trained to obtain as much information as possible regarding your alleged criminal conduct during the administration of a field sobriety test. For instance, a police officer might ask where you are driving to or from. You might reply that you just came from a local bar. Next, the officer may ask if you consumed any alcoholic beverages. If you reply yes or no, the officer may request for you to submit to a series of field sobriety tests.

Note, the observations an officer makes of your physical field sobriety tests performance may be used against you in court because it is physical evidence. Further, if you state that you were in fact drinking, this statement may also be admissible in court because the police were not required to read your Miranda warning since you were not under interrogation while in custody.

Some attorneys may advise you to always refuse the field sobriety tests. That may be good advice in some situations, such as where there has been an accident resulting in serious injury or death or where you already have a previous OWI conviction. However, there are some circumstances where it would be unwise to refuse the field sobriety tests because your lack of cooperation will be held against you by the prosecutor.

If you are ever pulled over for a traffic violation you should provide the police officer with your license, insurance, and registration upon request. Never make any statements to the officer that can be used against you in the court of law. Contact me for more information regarding your rights upon arrest for a OWI in Michigan.


Criminal Arrests and Interrogations FAQ | If I'm arrested, do the police have to "read me my rights"?


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