Protected Statements During a DUI Crash Investigation 

Many people do not know that statements made by a defendant to police during the course of police investigations oftentimes are not protected by the Miranda rights. Miranda is the United States Supreme Court case that established that a defendant needs to be informed of their rights or the police are not allowed to just assume that every individual they come into contact with knows they have a Fifth Amendment privilege or Fifth Amendment right against incriminating themselves. It is important that if you are under investigation for a DUI car crash, you know what you can say, who you can say it around, and when you can say it. Consult a seasoned DC DUI attorney that can answer any questions you may have about protected statements during a DUI crash investigation.

Mirandizing People

The police are supposed to notify someone that they have detained and about to question that they have the right to remain silent, that what they say can and will be used against them in court or they have the right to have an attorney. If they are not properly advised of those rights and are in custody and then questioned, then the defendant’s answers to the police’s questions, the defense will try to exclude those based on the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the Miranda doctrine and the individuals words would count as protected statements during a DUI crash investigation.

Limitations of Miranda Rights

In more recent times, courts have limited the scope of Miranda warnings such that during the course of a DUI investigation, for example, while the individual has not yet been arrested or in other words, they are either sitting in the driver’s seat or they are standing outside their car and they are being interviewed or questioned by the police who do not have to read Miranda rights because the courts have determined that the individual is not in custody yet.

Therefore, those are not protected statements during a DUI crash investigation. Statements that were given while sitting in the car can be jotted down and used against them if they admit to having consumed alcohol or drugs. If they are not in custody yet and they are not being questioned about it, then Miranda does not apply. That is particularly in a DUI investigation because almost all of the government’s investigation occurs on the scene other than chemical tests if they conducted a chemical test at the police station or, if it is a blood test, at the hospital.

Investigation of DUI Offenses

Investigation of accidents caused by DUIs takes place at the scene of the collision. It is at the scene that the  Is this individual demonstrating signs and symptoms of impairment? That all happens at the scene before the individual is in custody in the majority of the cases. In most DUI cases, the police do not even bother ever reading the Miranda rights because they have all the information they need other than the breath, blood or urine test after the arrest has already been made.

Typically speaking, if an individual makes a statement to someone else, then the other person cannot just share that information as if it is fact, that is called hearsay. There are certain limits to that but, nonetheless, the rules of hearsay say that whoever said it needs to be the one on the stand saying it.

Seeking Medical Attention is an Exception to Hearsay

Seeking medical attention is the exception to hearsay and not one of the protected statements during a DUI crash investigation. In other words, if a doctor is asking questions as a patient because the patient has just suffered some form of injury and needed treatment and the individual made statements to the doctor and the doctor asks what happened, the individual will respond in order to receive the necessary treatment, even if what they say is potentially incriminating. If those statements are overheard, that does not constitute hearsay because the law presumes that a defendant in that situation will tell the truth to the doctor.

If someone who has been injured is being asked by medical professionals about their injury, it is presumed under the law that an individual will give accurate statements about it. Therefore, if the prosecution wants to present statements that if the defendant made those statements even though they were technically in custody – the police arrested them and brought them to the hospital – if those statements were made to a medical professional who was trying to treat them, then the government and the prosecution could get the medical professional to testify on the stand. They can call the doctor. In that sense, statements made by medical professionals where there has been a crash, where there is an injury to the defendant are not going to be protected by the doctor-patient privilege and are not going to be protected by the hearsay rules and are not going to be protected by the Miranda rights. If an individual wants to learn more about protected statements during DUI investigations, they should speak with a qualified DUI attorney that could answer their questions.