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Does Miranda Apply to Traffic Arrests?

NCJ Number
Wayne Law Review Volume: 27 Issue: 1 Dated: (Fall 1980) Pages: 193-215
M J Baliff
Date Published
23 pages
This article explores the various approaches courts have taken to applying the Miranda warnings to custodial traffic arrests, discusses the differences between merely detaining a motorist for the purpose of issuing a citation and actual police custody, and argues that the fact of arrest, rather than the offense, should determine whether Miranda warnings are required.
Miranda requires that police inform suspects of certain rights, such as the right to remain silent. From a fourth amendment standpoint, a stop to write a citation is not intrusive; thus, there is no 'custody' sufficient to give rise to Miranda rights. However, in all traffic encounters where a person is placed under arrest and removed involuntarily from the scene of the traffic stop, Miranda warnings must be given. A number of jurisdictions have reasoned that Miranda warnings are never required when a traffic offense is charged. Courts which extend the Miranda requirements to traffic offenses nonetheless distinguish between an investigatory stop and a custodial arrest. State courts have a duty under the supremacy clause to apply Miranda to all 'crimes' as that term has been interpreted under the fifth amendment. Miranda warnings will not interfere with police investigations because the rule should not apply to every stop to write a ticket but only to traffic arrests. Miranda safeguards should be available to every person, no matter how minor that person's crime. Footnotes are supplied.