All people within the United States have a Fifth Amendment Right against self-incrimination. This means that you do not have to speak to police when you are being investigated for any crime, including DUI. You should remain silent when you have been pulled over and are suspected of drunk driving.
A person’s Miranda rights are frequently misunderstood. It is mistakenly believed that the police have to read you your rights, or else the things that you say can’t hurt you later in court. This is not correct. When an officer stops you on the roadway, he or she is not required to read you your rights before asking you questions that could make you incriminate yourself if you answer them. It is legally allowed for the cop to ask you things like: Where are you coming from? How much have you had to drink? Do you know why I pulled you over? Your answers to these questions can be used against you in court, and you should not say anything in response.
Your Miranda rights only become important after you have been arrested. Once you are arrested by the officer, he must read you your rights before he asks any more questions, or talks to you in a way that he expects will get you to talk (back to him) about the DUI. If he asks you questions after the arrest, and without reading you your rights, your attorney will be able to suppress your responses in court. However, statements that you make “spontaneously,” that is, without being asked any question, cannot be suppressed – even if you have not been read your rights. The Miranda law only protects you from having to answer police questions, it does not protect you from statements that you offer up on your own, without any prompting from the officer.
Incriminating statements can be very harmful evidence in your Colorado DUI case. Often, such statements can make you look guilty even when you are not. For example: you are pulled over for DUI, and you end up refusing to take the blood alcohol test. It is a holiday, and you have had several drinks throughout the day before being stopped. You began drinking before an early 1:00 p.m. football game, and now it’s late in the evening. The officer asks, “How much have you had to drink,” and you answer “Four Long Island iced teas.” However, the truth is that you had those four drinks over the course of many hours, starting before game. While you are being honest with your answer to officer, your statements may create a misleading perception to a jury later in court. It may be that your blood alcohol level was below the legal limit when you were stopped, yet your statements make it sound like you where drunk.
Your answers to other questions, similarly, can cause your defense case serious harm. Saying that you have just come from a bar, or a Denver Broncos game, only increases a jury’s perception that you have been in a drinking environment, and have made poor decisions about driving drunk – when in reality the fact that you have come from a bar does not prove or disprove your level of impairment. It is only an “idea” that makes your conduct look worse to the jury.
Lastly, answering questions or making statements gives the officer the opportunity to be critical of your ability to speak clearly. If you speak at all, you will likely find that the words “slurred speech” will appear in your police report. On the other hand, if you remain silent, it takes this additional piece of evidence out of the officer’s hands.