Is a traffic stop an arrest within the meaning of Miranda?
Law enforcement officers must provide the Miranda warnings to suspects who are (1) in custody and (2) subject to interrogation. Motorists who have been stopped by police officers aren’t free to leave and are inevitably subjected to some kind of questioning, which begs the question: Shouldn't officers read them their rights?
The Supreme Court has acknowledged that a traffic stop involves significant restraint of a driver’s freedom. But it has held that that a typical roadside detention doesn’t place the driver “in custody” because it doesn’t involve the kind of restraint that’s typical of a formal arrest (for example, handcuffing). That isn’t to say, however, that a traffic stop can’t evolve into a full-blown arrest that requires Miranda warnings for further questioning.