In a Drunk Driving Investigation Must Police Read Me My Rights?

In a Drunk Driving Investigation Must Police Read Me My Rights?

Yes, when you’ve been stopped for drunk driving the police must read you your rights.  In fact, the police may be required to read to you three separate sets of rights; one related to the roadside or preliminary breath test (PBT), the second set of rights related to the second breath test at the station, and under certain circumstances, the police must read to you your Miranda rights prior to questioning you.  Each of these sets of rights is discussed below.

Preliminary Test Rights.

According to the Michigan State Police Preliminary Breath Test Manual, the following rights should be read to a person before asking them to submit to a roadside breath test:

Michigan law requires you to submit to a preliminary breath test upon request of a peace officer.  Your refusal to submit as requested shall result in your being charged with a civil infraction with a penalty of up to a $100.00 fine.

The rights for commercial drivers are different, as are the penalties.  MCL 257.625a(2)(d) was amended to provide that a person who refuses to submit to a preliminary roadside analysis upon a lawful request by a peace officer is responsible for a civil infraction; however, under MCL 257.625a(5), if the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time, the person is guilty of a 93-day misdemeanor.

Chemical Test Rights.

These are the rights that the police must read to you prior to asking you to provide a breath blood or urine test.  The law regarding these rights is set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws 257.625a.  The rights consist of the following:

  1. That if you take the police test, you have the right to demand that a person of your own choosing administer 1 of the chemical tests.
  2. That the results of both tests are admissible at trial and will be considered with other admissible evidence in determining the defendant’s innocence or guilt.
  3. That you are responsible for obtaining a chemical analysis of a test sample obtained at your request.
  4. That if you refuse to take the police test it will not be given without a court order.
  5. And finally, that refusing to take the test the police request will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and the addition of 6 points to your driver record.

Miranda Rights – Your Right to Remain Silent

As a general rule, “a motorist detained for a routine traffic stop or investigative stop is ordinarily not in custody within the meaning of Miranda.”[i] This is because, “unlike a stationhouse interrogation, the roadside questioning and detention of a driver in such a situation is brief and spontaneous,” and typically does not involve a “police-dominated” atmosphere that might make an individual believe that they are “completely at the mercy of the police.”[ii] Thus, in most drunk driving scenarios, the Miranda Rule does not apply.  However, this is not always the true, and it will be important for your lawyer to determine when you were first placed into custody.  This will govern when the Miranda rights must be read.

Thus, if you are arrested and subjected to custodial interrogation, then you have a right to be warned that you have a right to remain silent, that any statement you make may be used as evidence against you, and that you have a right to the presence of an attorney.[iii]  It is essential to understand that the key point in is that you must be subjected to a custodial interrogation, meaning that you have been subjected to questioning after being taken into custody or significantly deprived of your freedom of action in some significant way.[iv]  Whether you are in custody depends on the totality of the circumstances.[v]

One drunk driving case in Michigan where the Miranda precluded the driver’s admission to drinking 6 beers involved a situation where the driver came to a stop in a parking lot, left his car, and started walking into the store.[vi]  The police commanded him to return to his car, but the driver ignored this.  The police followed him into the store and commanded him again to return to his car, and this time he complied.  The Michigan Court of Appeals found that in this unique set of facts, the driver was in custody and that he should have been read his chemical test rights.  Specifically, the court analyzed the facts as follows:

This case, however, does not constitute a typical roadside stop. Heighton testified that he was parked in a parking lot near the intersection of 24th Street and Beard when he observed Edwards’s truck. Although the speed limit was 35 miles per hour, Heighton’s radar gun indicated that Edwards was traveling 49 miles per hour. Without activating his lights, Heighton followed Edwards for a short distance before observing him turning into a Speedway parking lot. Edwards was already out of his truck and approximately halfway to the Speedway store before Heighton activated his emergency lights. Heighton exited his police cruiser and twice yelled for Edwards to return to vehicle. Although Edwards looked at him, he did not otherwise respond, and he entered the store. Heighton testified that he ran after Edwards and again ordered him to return to his truck. This time Edwards complied with the directive. Thus, the record reflects that Edwards was commanded by a police officer to return to his parked vehicle and answer questions without being given an explanation for what the officer suspected him of doing wrong. Further, Edwards’s testimony at trial made it clear that he did not believe Heighton was speaking to him when he first yelled at him to return to the truck, and he also testified that he was alarmed and confused when Heighton chased him into the store and yelled at him to return. Under these circumstances, we conclude that Edwards was arguably subjected to a custodial interrogation after he returned to his vehicle because he was significantly deprived of his freedom of action.

If you think any of these rights were not read to you then you should discuss this with your attorney, who will then be able to advise you how such failure, if shown, will impact your case.


[i] Id. at 317.

[ii] People v Burton, 252 Mich. App. 130, 139-140; 651 NW2d 143 (2002) (quotation marks omitted).

[iii] Miranda v Arizona, 384 US 436, 444; 86 S Ct 1602; 16 L Ed 2d 694 (1966).

[iv] People v Steele,292 Mich. App. 308, 316; 806 NW2d 753 (2011).

[v] Id.

[vi] People v. Edwards, Ricky, Unpublished.

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