Every standard DUI for the most part always has the same evidence against the defendant. There usually is some kind of driving, some physical observations of the defendant in the vehicle, physical observations of the defendant outside the vehicle (usually the field sobriety tests), and the evidence involving a breath test.
However in some DUI cases a defendant will decline to provide some of those observations and evidence to law enforcement. This usually happens when a defendant declines to perform the field sobriety tests or the breath test. If that is the case than that can effectively deprive the Prosecutor of it’s only scientific evidence. Really the only concrete evidence showing whether the defendants ability to drive was affected by the alcohol they consumed.
In those cases the Prosecution often attempts to introduce evidence of the defendants refusal of the tests to a jury in a trial. A DUI Attorney should always object and try to suppress evidence that their client declined these tests. In my opinion there are three reasons to do this.
First, the sole reason a Prosecutor will try to introduce evidence a defendant declined these tests is to argue to the jury the reason they didn’t do any of these tests is because they knew they would fail them. In other words there was a consciousness of guilt on the part of the defendant. This can be an effective argument against the defense.
Secondly often times refusal evidence carries increased penalties. For example a refusal of a breath or blood test carries more jail, more fines, and a longer license suspension. If the defense is successfully able to suppress that refusal than worst case scenario if the defendant is found guilty following trial they will face less severe penalties than they would have otherwise.
Lastly, if the Prosecutor is unable to provide this alternative theory of consciousness of guilt than the jury would never know the tests were offered and that just makes the Prosecutors job that much more difficult to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Think about it. If you were sitting on a jury and you didn’t hear any evidence that the Officer offered a field sobriety tests or a breath test and the only evidence is simply the arrest, that is a pretty weak case.
Obviously this is a case by case analysis. Sometimes there are instances where you would want refusal evidence to come in if you’re the defendant. However in my opinion if you can try to keep it out the Prosecutions case becomes more difficult to prove.
Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI Lawyer in Washington State. He represents those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses. He is currently rated as a Top Seattle DUI Attorney by Avvo, and currently listed as a Rising Star in the area of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.