If you've ever seen a cop movie or an episode of Law & Order, you probably know what a Miranda Warning is. A Miranda Warning is given after the cop arrests the bad guy, and the cop warns the suspect of his rights and that what suspect says could be used against him in his court case. I have dealt with numerous clients who are having a license suspension or a license reinstatement hearing and assume that because they weren't given their Miranda Warning by the officer, what they said to the officer can't be used in court. Unfortunately, this is not true—you do not have to be given Miranda Warnings for statements to be considered by the court in license reinstatement or suspension hearings.
First, a little background on Miranda Warnings. The requirement for Miranda Warnings came from the 1966 US Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. Miranda was arrested for kidnapping and rape and signed a confession to the rape charge. The confession Miranda said he was aware of his legal rights and was waiving them, but the police never notified Miranda of the rights he had. The Supreme Court found that because of the coercive nature of a police interrogation, a person in Miranda's position cannot knowingly waive his rights unless the police has informed him of the rights. From this case was born the Miranda Warning: “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?”
In the case of Village of Algonquin v. Tilden, 335 Ill. App. 3d 332 (2d Dist. 2002), an Illinois appellate court held that an incriminating statement given to police before a person's arrest for driving under the influence can and should be considered in license suspension and reinstatement hearings even if no Miranda Warning was issued. The reason for this is that the Miranda Warning is meant to protect the rights of the accused in criminal matters post arrest and license suspension and reinstatement hearings are civil matters. License suspension and reinstatement hearings are about protecting those who travel the roads as opposed to punishing the driver in a criminal matter.
Because statements given without a Miranda Warning may still be considered by the court in a license suspension or reinstatement hearing, it is all the more important that you are aware of your rights and that you have adequate representation. At John W. Callahan, Ltd., we have over a decade of experience handling license suspension and license reinstatement cases just like yours. Contact the skilled attorneys at John W. Callahan, Ltd. for representation.
–Posted by John W. Callahan, license reinstatement attorney