Dui Refusal Has to Be More Probative Than Prejudicial

The case of “Randall v. State, S23A1118” decided on January 17, 2024, by the Supreme Court of Georgia, revolves around the suppression of evidence related to Antonio Rodrick Randall’s refusal to submit to a blood test following his DUI arrest. In an earlier decision, “State v. Randall, 315 Ga. 198, 880 S.E.2d 134 (2022)” (referred to as “Randall I”), the court vacated the trial court’s order suppressing this evidence on the grounds that the constitutional challenge to the admissibility of blood test refusal evidence and related statutes was unnecessarily resolved.

On remand, the trial court again suppressed the evidence of Randall’s refusal to consent to a blood test on constitutional grounds. However, the Supreme Court highlighted that the trial court should have first evaluated the argument under OCGA § 24-4-403 (Rule 403) that concerns the evidence’s potential prejudice outweighing its probative value, before addressing the constitutional claims.

The case details Randall’s encounter with law enforcement on April 6, 2021, where he was stopped for failing to maintain his lane, showed signs of alcohol consumption, and subsequently refused a blood test. Randall argued that the admission of his refusal as evidence violated his due process rights under the federal and state constitutions and that the implied consent statutes allowing such evidence also violated due process.

The Supreme Court of Georgia vacated the trial court’s order on the motion to suppress and remanded the case for further proceedings, emphasizing the need to address the Rule 403 argument before the constitutional issues.

This case illustrates the complex interplay between constitutional rights, evidentiary rules, and the state’s interest in prosecuting DUI offenses. It also underscores the careful scrutiny courts apply to ensure that both statutory and constitutional standards are met in criminal proceedings. If a DUI suspect admits to drinking that there is no probative value to the admission of the blood refusal because a refusal of a blood test is only indicative of the presence of the prohibited substance. See, Brooks v. State, 187 Ga. App. 194, 369 SE2d 801 (1988). So in such circumstances, the refusal is clearly prejudicial but not probative as the presence of alcohol has already been established.

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