Operating While Intoxicated and Your Rights

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and Your Rights

When you’ve been pulled over for a drunk driving offense, the police officer that pulled you over is required to read you your rights, including rights regarding the roadside or preliminary breath test (PBT), rights regarding the breath test at the police station and, under certain circumstances, the police officer must read you your Miranda rights before questioning you.

The first is your preliminary breath test rights. The Michigan State Police Preliminary Breath Test Manual states, “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.”

If you refuse to perform the PBT, you may be guilty of a civil infraction.

The second is your chemical test rights. Your chemical test rights are rights the police officer must read to you prior to you taking a breath, blood, or urine test. These rights generally state:

  1. You have the right to demand that a person of your own choosing administer one of the chemical tests.
  2. The results of the test(s) are admissible at trial and will be considered with other admissible evidence to determine your guilt or innocence.
  3. You are responsible for obtaining the chemical analysis, if the test was obtained at your request.
  4. If you refuse any of these tests, the police officers may still obtain the test with a court order. The test will not be given, if you refuse, without a court order.
  5. However, refusing to take one of these tests, when requested by a police officer, will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and 6 points will be added to your driving record.

The third is your Miranda Rights. This is your right to remain silent. In most drunk driving situations, the Miranda Rule does not apply. Generally, a motorist detained for a routine traffic stop or investigative stop is ordinarily not in custody within the meaning of Miranda.” Id. at 17.[1] This is because the roadside questioning and detention of a driver in this type of situation is brief and spontaneous and does not involve a police-dominated atmosphere that may make someone believe they are “completely at the mercy of the police.”[2]

However, this does not mean that the Miranda Rule does not apply to your case. If you were under arrest and were subjected to a custodial interrogation, then you have the right to be read your Miranda Rights. This includes the right to remain silent, that any statement you make may be used against you as evidence, and that you have the right to an attorney.[3]

If you believe any of your rights were violated, discuss the matter with an attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you through this legal process and advise you of how a violation may impact your case.

We can evaluate your case! Give us a call at (616) 227-3737 or complete an online contact form to reach out.


[1] People v Edwards, unpublished per curium opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued October 30, 2018 Docket No. 337354, 2018 citing People v Steele, 292 Mich App 308, 806 NW 2d 753 (2011)

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

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