In Alabama, when you take advantage of the privilege of operating a vehicle on state roads, you give implied consent to having your blood-alcohol concentration tested if there is reason to believe you are too impaired to drive. Alabama's implied consent law is found in Code Section 32-5-192. Refusing to take the test can result in a 90-day license suspension. A second refusal can result in a one-year license suspension. A refusal to submit to chemical testing can also be used against you when a prosecutor brings charges for drunk driving.
When you go to court to defend yourself against the DWI charges, you will need to address a refusal to consent to chemical testing as part of your DWI defense. An experienced DUI defense attorney can assist in making strong legal arguments.
DWI Defense and a Chemical Test Refusal
A chemical test refusal can impact your DWI defense strategy and you need to ensure you have a plan for ensuring the prosecutor is not able to turn your test refusal into compelling evidence proving you were over-the-limit. The right legal strategy must be tailored to the specifics of your particular case. To give you some idea of the complexities associated with defending yourself after a chemical test refusal, consider the advice provided by this article published by the Illinois Bar Association. Illinois law shares many similarities with Alabama drunk driving laws.
Addressing the chemical test refusal should be done at every phase of your criminal trial. Some of the different things to consider when planning a DWI defense after refusing to take a chemical test include:
- Ensuring the prosecutor does not shift burden of proof. A prosecutor cannot make you prove you weren't drunk. The prosecutor has to prove you were impaired. This is true even if the prosecutor tries to suggest you refused the chemical testing due to impairment.
- Making sure a jury is selected that can understand the nuances of your case. During jury questioning, it is important to ensure potential jurors understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty and know that a person who drinks before driving is not necessarily drunk enough to be breaking the law.
- Determining if you should testify on your behalf, and the type of testimony you can present. You will be questioned about your refusal to take a chemical test if you take the stand, and you should be prepared to answer the question.
- Incorporating information on your test refusal into opening statements and other aspects of your defense. Opening and closing arguments made to the jury can help set the tone for the evidence you present as you defend against drunk driving charges.
Because of the complexities associated with defending a drunk driving case, it is always important to be represented by an experienced legal advocate. It is especially essential in situations where you refused a chemical test to determine if you were impaired.