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Role of Implied Consent Refusing DUI Testing 

The role of implied consent in refusing DUI testing can be complex. DC’s implied consent laws say that, by operating a vehicle in DC, the driver is deemed to have given their consent to any one of the three types of chemical testing. That could be a breath test, it could be a urine test, or it could be a blood test. The police, ultimately, are the ones who decide what test to give in the event the suspect agrees to provide a sample for testing. If the suspect refuses, then the police will not take a test except in a situation where testing is required, which is when the driver is involved in an accident that resulted in some kind of injury. For more information on implied consent and DUI testing, contact a competent attorney today.

What Happens if a Person Refuses to Give Law Enforcement a Sample?

If a person refuses to give a sample, then the police will not take a sample. If the person agrees to give a sample, then the police will decide whether that sample is going to be a breath test, a urine test, or a blood test. In most situations, chemical testing is done through a breath test at the police station. In some situations, the police could choose to do a urine sample and, in other situations, the police could ask for one breath sample and then also a urine sample, but the implied consent laws apply to any of the three with the final decision as to which tests to administer being decided by the police.

Successful Arguments Against Implied Consent

DC’s implied consent laws have been upheld routinely by courts in Washington, DC and the same rules have been upheld routinely in courts around the country. Courts have determined that implied consent laws are constitutional and that states and legislators are allowed to enact laws that create penalties for people who refuse to submit to chemical testing in DUI investigations. However, one important area for challenge in DUI cases is how the refusal to submit to chemical testing is presented as evidence in a person’s court case.

Implied consent laws state that if a person refuses to submit to chemical testing in a DUI investigation, the fact of that refusal can be used against the defendant as evidence in their trial. This means that prosecutors have the ability to argue that the reason why a person refused to submit to chemical testing during their DUI investigation was because the defendant knew that they were intoxicated and did not want to provide that incriminating evidence to the police which could then be used against them in trial. The role of implied consent laws here in refusing to submit to DUI testing can be used against the defendant.

Could Silence be Used as Incriminating Evidence?

This is different from arguments about interrogations and whether a defendant’s silence can be used as incriminating evidence against them. There is no question that in nearly every situation, a defendant who refuses to answer questions or refuses to make statements cannot be deemed to have admitted to any wrongdoing and the defendant’s invoking of their right to remain silent cannot be used as evidence against that person to suggest that the person is guilty because they refused to answer questions.

Consciousness of Guilt

The rules are different for submitting chemical tests. A person’s refusal to submit to chemical testing can be used as evidence by the prosecutors that the person who refused to submit to that testing did so because they were aware of their own intoxication. This is referred to commonly as a consciousness of guilt argument, meaning that the defendant was aware of their own guilt and refused to submit to testing because of their intoxication. The role of implied consent can also be used against a person in DUI testing in this situation.

Weakness of Argument

This is an argument that is fairly weak and is routinely challenged by defense attorneys on the grounds that people refuse to give samples for chemical testing for all sorts of different reasons and that refusing to submit to that testing does not necessarily imply anything about the defendant’s guilt or innocence. For example, there were many years where Washington, DC was using improperly calibrated breath testing machines and that fact, when it became known, was very heavily publicized.

Unreliability of Breath Testing Machines

Consequently, people who had heard about the improperly calibrated breath testing machines, which were never used for years by DC police became very skeptical of not only breath testing but any kind of DUI investigation that involved chemical testing. Many people were justified in their skepticism of the reliability of chemical testing for DUI investigations and, as such, many people decided that they did not want to be improperly tested. Many people are still skeptical of the reliability of chemical testing, and so arguments are routinely made to challenge the prosecutor’s contentions that refusing to submit to chemical testing is considered evidence of a defendant’s consciousness of their own guilt and therefore, defense attorneys routinely challenge the use of that kind of evidence in DUI trials. If a person has any inquiries about the role of implied consent in DUI testing, they should refer them to an experienced attorney.

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