Watch enough movies or TV show, and you will undoubtedly hear a police officer read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights, which are as follows:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Failure to Read Miranda Rights is not always a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Many persons assume that, if Miranda Rights are not read, then they cannot face criminal prosecution. This assumption is incorrect. Here's why.
The U.S. Supreme case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), merely held that, if the Miranda warning is not read to a suspect, then any statement he makes in response to police questioning is not admissible in court. So, assume that John Smith is arrested as a burglary suspect. If he confesses after police questioning, but the police failed to read him his Miranda rights, his confession cannot be used at his trial. In cases such as this, the police omission could result in a dismissal of the case.
When there is no need to read Miranda Rights
But consider a different scenario. Imagine that a Kootenai County Deputy Sheriff pulls over a car which has been weaving over the highway. The office will ask the suspect to step out of the vehicle and, if he smells of alcohol, will administer an alcohol breath test. If the breath test shows that the suspect's alcohol level is over .08 percent alcohol, the suspect can be charged with Driving Under the Influence even though he was not read his Miranda Rights. This is because the police officer has not asked him any questions. Miranda violations only exclude a suspect's statements under questioning by a law enforcement officer. A breath test does not constitute questioning. In fact, under Idaho law, there is no right to refuse a breath test or even call a lawyer before taking the breath test.
The difference seen in these two cases results from the fact that the Miranda decision was designed to prevent instances in which police officers badgered and harassed suspects into confessing.