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Miranda Rights Apply During Michigan OWI Arrest

Question: Do Miranda Rights apply during an OWI investigation or arrest in Michigan? If so, when should the Miranda Warning be read?

Answer: Miranda Rights are required in any criminal investigation. However, the major caveat is that it must be in a custodial interrogation. So the first part is custody. Custody is generally thought of as the arrest. But the actual definition is: Would a reasonable person feel free to leave under the circumstances? So in an OWI stop, most people who are stopped on the side of the road are ticketed and eventually allowed to leave. Of course there is a delay, but courts have found that a reasonable person would eventually feel free to leave after being investigated on the side of the road. Therefore, at that point you are not under custody. Instead, custody begins when the officer either places you under arrest or if you’re placed in a position where a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. Many times, this would be the rear of a police car for the simple fact that even if you were under the impression that you could leave, you are physically restrained from doing so by the fact that most police cars, the rear doors do not open from the inside.

Outside of that, you have to further be asked questions—that’s the interrogation component. Most officers have most of their evidence conducted on the side of the road before you’re in custody, so that way all of their questioning can come in without them having to read you Miranda Rights. On the other hand, some police officers will arrest you and then sit quietly in their police cars while you continue to talk. One of the problems with intoxicated people is that sometimes they have a hard time remaining silent. They begin to talk and if there are no questions directed to them, their statements, in fact, can be used at a later point. One of the main reasons that police officers will not, in most cases, read Miranda Rights—outside of the fact that they’ve already gained most of the evidence that they believe they need—is that later you will be required to give breath tests at a police station. They have their own set of rights, in Michigan especially, called implied consent rights that must be read. Those rights differ from Miranda Rights in that you do not have the right to speak to an attorney prior to making a decision to submit a breath sample or not. Because the reading of Miranda Rights can cause confusion among suspects, most police officers do not want to read them because they do not want to have to either violate somebody for failing to blow or, even worse in their opinion, have to go give blood and then not be able to violate that person because they had simply read Miranda Rights and not provided somebody an opportunity to speak to an attorney. Therefore, Miranda Rights generally are not read during OWI arrests, but if they are they must be read before the person is placed into custody and before any questions are asked of them regarding that case.