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South Dakota vs. Neville Case Brief: Refusing a BAC Admissible as Evidence Toward One’s Guilt in DUI Cases

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Is refusing a BAC admissible as evidence?

Is refusing a BAC admissible as evidence?

Background

A man was arrested in South Dakota in 1982 for driving while intoxicated. The officers asked him to submit to a blood-alcohol test and warned him that he could lose his license if he refused but did not warn him that the refusal could be used against him in court. The man chose not to take the test, saying that he was too drunk and could not pass it.  The officers asked him to take the test two more times before completing his arrest.

Question

Is refusing a BAC admissible as evidence toward a person’s guilt in a DUI case, or is the defendant protected by the privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment?


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Final Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood-alcohol test does not offend his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This means that evidence of the refusal can be used against the defendant to prove guilt in a DUI case. The court found that as long as the officer has lawfully offered the BAC test, regardless of if he made clear the repercussions, the defendant is not protected by the privilege against self-incrimination.

What Does South Dakota vs. Neville Mean for You?

We hope you will never find yourself in this situation, but if you are pulled over in suspicion of drunk driving, choosing to refuse the BAC test can be used against you at your trial. Evidence of your refusal can be used to prove your guilt in a DUI case.


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