State v. Neville, 13260

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Citation312 N.W.2d 723
Docket NumberNo. 13260,13260
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Mason Henry NEVILLE, Defendant and Appellee.
Decision Date02 December 1981

Mark Smith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, for plaintiff and appellant; Mark V. Meierhenry, Atty. Gen., Pierre, on brief.

David R. Gienapp of Arneson, Issenhuth & Gienapp, Madison, for defendant and appellee.

DUNN, Justice.

The State appeals from an order of the circuit court suppressing evidence of defendant Mason Henry Neville's refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test. We affirm.

Neville was arrested for driving while intoxicated on July 19, 1980, after he had drawn the attention of two Madison, South Dakota police officers by failing to stop for a stop sign. Neville was given two field sobriety tests and was then arrested. After advising him of his Miranda rights, the arresting officer asked Neville to submit to a blood alcohol test and warned him that his failure or refusal to submit to the test may result in the revocation of his driver's license. Neville refused to submit to the blood test, and subsequently made a motion to suppress any and all evidence of his refusal. At the suppression hearing, prosecution witnesses testified to his refusal and to his statement "I'm too drunk, I won't pass the test." The circuit court ordered the evidence of Neville's refusal to submit to the blood alcohol test suppressed, finding that SDCL 32-23-10.1 was unconstitutional; that the arresting officers failed to advise Neville that the refusal evidence could be used against him at trial; and that the refusal was irrelevant to the issues before the court.

The statute in question, SDCL 32-23-10.1, provides that:

If a person refuses to submit to chemical analysis of his blood, urine, breath or other bodily substance, as provided in § 32-23-10, and that person subsequently stands trial for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as provided in § 32-23-1, such refusal may be admissible into evidence at the trial.

Prior to the enactment of this statute in 1980, this court held that SDCL 32-23-10 conferred on a defendant a statutory right to refuse to submit to an alcohol analysis test and that evidence of a defendant's refusal would not be admissible in a criminal proceeding. State v. Oswald, 90 S.D. 342, 241 N.W.2d 566 (1976); State v. Buckingham, 90 S.D. 198, 240 N.W.2d 84 (1976). In State v. Oswald, supra, we stated: "Certainly it is unfair to create by statute a right not to submit to a chemical test and to allow the accused to exercise that right and then in open court before a jury to permit testimony concerning that refusal which can all too easily work in the minds of the jury members to the prejudice of the defendant." 90 S.D. at 346, 241 N.W.2d at 569. To reach this conclusion, we relied on State v. Buckingham, supra, wherein we stated: "Implicit in our implied consent statute, however, is the right to refuse to submit to a test and, a fortiori, the requirement that a choice be made between submitting to the test or suffering the consequences of such refusal." 90 S.D. at 204, 240 N.W.2d at 87.

At the time Oswald and Buckingham were decided by this court the applicable statute, while providing that the individual had a right to refuse to take the test did not expressly state that such a refusal would be admissible in evidence in a criminal proceeding as does SDCL 32-23-10.1. Therefore, the question before us today is whether SDCL 32-23-10.1 is a violation of Neville's federal and state constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. U.S.Const.Amend. V; S.D.Const. art. VI, § 9. We find that it is.

All presumptions are in favor of the constitutionality of a statute until the contrary is shown beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Brown, 296 N.W.2d 501 (S.D.1980); Crowley v. State, 268 N.W.2d 616 (S.D.1978); State v. Strong, 90 S.D. 652, 245 N.W.2d 277 (S.D.1976). This presumption results in a heavy burden being placed on the assailant. State v. Brown, supra; State Theatre Co. v. Smith, 276 N.W.2d 259 (S.D.1979).

In Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966), the United States Supreme Court held that withdrawal of blood from a defendant for chemical analysis, although compelled, does not constitute evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature. The Court further held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination was not violated by the procedure. It can be implied that a defendant does not have a federal constitutional right to refuse to take a blood test.

The Supreme Court, however, expressly declined in Schmerber to decide the question now before us. In Schmerber the petitioner had refused a police request that he take a breath test for alcohol content. Evidence of his refusal was admitted at trial without objection. He contended on appeal that the introduction of evidence relating to his refusal to submit to the breath test was a denial of his privilege against self-incrimination. The Court did not reach this question, since petitioner failed to object to the introduction of the evidence at trial. However, it did indicate in a footnote that incriminating evidence resulting from the refusal to submit to an alcohol test may be "an unavoidable by-product of the compulsion to take the test .... If it wishes to compel persons to submit to such attempts to discover evidence, the State may have to forgo the advantage of any testimonial products of administering the test-products which would fall within the privilege." The Court then stated that "general Fifth Amendment principles" would be applicable to the introduction of refusal evidence and comments made by the prosecutor in closing argument upon his refusal. 384 U.S. at 765-66 n. 9, 86 S.Ct. at 1833, 16 L.Ed.2d at 916-17 (emphasis in original).

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the Court summarized its discussion of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination as follows:

To maintain a 'fair state-individual balance,' to require the government 'to shoulder the entire load,' to respect the inviolability of the human personality, our accusatory system of criminal justice demands that the government seeking to punish an individual produce the evidence against him by its own independent labors, rather than by the cruel, simple expedient of compelling it from his own mouth.

384 U.S. at 460, 86 S.Ct. at 1620, 16 L.Ed.2d at 715 (citations omitted). The Court reaffirmed this statement in Schmerber noting that "the protection of the privilege reaches an accused's communications, whatever form they might take, and the compulsion of responses which are also communications(.)" The Court recognized, however, that "the privilege is a bar against compelling 'communications' or 'testimony,' but that compulsion which makes a suspect or accused the source of 'real or physical evidence' does not violate it." 384 U.S. at 763-64, 86 S.Ct. at 1832, 16 L.Ed.2d at 916.

To determine whether the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination applies to refusal evidence, this court must first examine whether a defendant's refusal to take a chemical analysis test is a communicative act involving that person's testimonial capacities or if it is real or physical evidence which does not fall within the privilege. Evidence of a defendant's refusal to submit to a blood test is relevant only because it infers that defendant refused to take the blood test because of his fear as to whether he would pass it. Dudley v. State, 548 S.W.2d 706 (Tex.Crim.App.1977). A defendant's silence or refusal to submit to a requested blood test is a tacit or overt expression and communication of defendant's thoughts. Dudley v. State, supra. To this extent the evidence may be characterized as "communicative or testimonial" rather than "real or physical" evidence that simply describes an existing physical characteristic. People v. Thomas, 46 N.Y.2d 100, 412 N.Y.S.2d 845, 385 N.E.2d 584 (1978); Gay v. City of Orlando, 202 So.2d 896 (Fla.1967), cert. denied, 390 U.S. 956, 88 S.Ct. 1052, 19 L.Ed.2d 1149 (1968).

The inference of inability to pass the blood test is not similar to circumstantial evidence of consciousness of guilt such as escape from custody, false alibi, flight or suppression of evidence as was held by the California Supreme Court in People v. Sudduth, 65 Cal.2d 543, 55 Cal.Rptr. 393, 421 P.2d 401 (1966). A defendant is not exercising a statutory right in those instances, whereas here there is an absolute right under South Dakota law to refuse to submit to the blood test. SDCL 32-23-10; State v. Oswald, supra; State v. Buckingham, supra. Thus, a defendant's actions, rather than being evidence of consciousness of guilt, may be the result of the exercise of his statutory right to refuse the test. A defendant's exercise of his statutory right to refuse to submit to the blood test cannot be used against him in the prosecution's case in chief. See Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610, 96 S.Ct. 2240, 49 L.Ed.2d 91 (1976); Dudley v. State, supra (P. J. Onion, concurring).

Second, this court must determine whether this testimonial evidence was compelled for purposes of applying the Fifth Amendment standard. We agree with the rationale of the Minnesota Supreme Court in State v. Andrews, 297 Minn. 260, 212 N.W.2d 863, 864 (1973), wherein it stated:

"In one sense the testimonial action is obviously not compelled-the state is not ordering the suspect to refuse cooperation. But the state does compel a suspect to choose between submitting to a perhaps unpleasant examination and producing testimonial evidence against himself. The suspect's option to submit to a lawfully imposed burden instead of implicitly testifying against himself does not necessarily save the procedure: lifting a lawful burden-the examination-is in effect an inducement that casts doubt on the 'voluntariness' of...

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