If I’m arrested for DWI, when do I have an absolute right to an attorney?
Under our federal and state constitutions, you have an absolute right to an attorney at your trial if you are arrested for DWI. However, such is not the case in every pretrial stage which precedes the trial. Indeed, in some pretrial stages, a person in custody has a right to assistance of an attorney for one purpose but not for another purpose, i.e., for assistance in answering police interrogation questions, but not for deciding whether or not to take a breath or blood test.
Generally speaking, any person in police custody wherein it would be objectively viewed as being under arrest – even if the person has not been told that is so – is entitled to be informed of his rights to remain silent, to have assistance of a lawyer prior to and during any interrogation, to have a free attorney if he is financially unable to hire one, and to terminate any such interrogation.