Are blood test refusals inadmissible under new case law?

Recently a blood test refusal was suppressed in a local district court. Although I was not the DUI Lawyer that litigated the issue, I know the Attorney that did and kudos to her. So that raises the question are blood test refusals admissible? At least according to one Judge in King County the answer is no? Let’s take a closer look why?

Essentially two cases have changed the legal landscape when it comes to DUI blood testing evidence. The first case I have blogged about extensively. Missouri v. McNeely. In that case the United States Supreme Court held that the natural metabolization of alcohol in the human body does not present an exigency issue that justifies an exception to the 4th amendment warrant requirement. In other words a blood test is now considered a search and a warrant is required.

The other case that has changed the legal landscape is a local case. State v. Gauthier. The Court of Appeals Division I held that a defendants refusal to consent to DNA testing cannot be used as evidence of guilt by the Prosecution. In other words the Prosecutors can’t argue the reason the defendant refused a blood test is because he knew he was guilty.

Now clearly the McNeely case is applicable to DUIs. The question is whether the Gauthier case is? When you combine the two together it is very clear in my opinion it is applicable to DUI cases. Under a 4th amendment analysis when it comes to blood testing of any kind. Whether it is for DNA, or to test for alcohol and/or drugs in a DUI case it is considered a search. And therefore under Gauthier when a defendant is exercising their 4th amendment rights or their 5th amendment right to remain silent is not evidence of guilt.

Now the question becomes is Gauthier applicable to DUI breath test refusals? This is a question for another day and one I’m certain every DUI Attorney in Seattle will be litigating now that the door has been opened for challenging refusal evidence by this Judge in King County.

Again kudos to the DUI Lawyer that raised this issue. Excellent outcome.

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