In many cases in which a person is arrested due to suspicion of DUI, the arresting officer will ask the person to submit to a blood or breath test. If the person refuses to undergo chemical testing after he or she is arrested, evidence of the refusal can be submitted at trial to establish the defendant’s guilt. Notably, however, as recently explained by a Washington Court of Appeals, a defendant has a constitutional right to refuse to submit to a breath test prior to an arrest, and evidence of such refusal is not admissible at trial. If you are a resident of Washington and are charged with DUI, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.
Facts and Procedure of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was stopped for driving five miles over the speed limit and for failing to use a turn signal before changing lanes. When the police officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he did not observe any signs of intoxication. He ran the defendant’s registration and learned that there was a warrant for her arrest. He arrested the defendant on her outstanding warrant, and then noted an odor of alcohol on the defendant, and that the defendant’s eyes were slightly bloodshot and her eyelids were slightly droopy.
Reportedly, the officer transported the defendant to jail, where he asked her to submit to a preliminary breath test, a tool he uses to establish probable cause. The defendant refused to take the test or to undergo field sobriety testing. She was charged with DUI. Prior to trial, she filed a motion to preclude evidence of her refusal to submit to the preliminary breath test, which the court denied. Evidence of her refusal was introduced at trial, and the defendant was convicted. She appealed, arguing that evidence of her refusal was improperly admitted.