SOUTH DAKOTA V. NEVILLE, 459 U. S. 553 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

South Dakota v. Neville, 459 U.S. 553 (1983)

South Dakota v. Neville

No. 81-1453

Argued December 8, 1982

Decided February 22, 1983

459 U.S. 553


A South Dakota statute permits a person suspected of driving while intoxicated to refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test, but authorizes revocation of the driver's license of a person so refusing the test and permits such refusal to be used against him at trial. When respondent was arrested by police officers in South Dakota 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 at trial. Respondent refused to take the test. The South Dakota trial court granted respondent's motion to suppress all evidence of his refusal to take the blood alcohol test. The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed on the ground that the statute allowing introduction of evidence of the refusal violated the privilege against self-incrimination.


1. The admission into evidence of a defendant's refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test does not offend his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A refusal to take such a test, after a police officer has lawfully requested it, is not an act coerced by the officer, and thus is not protected by the privilege against self-incrimination. The offer of taking the test is clearly legitimate, and becomes no less legitimate when the State offers a second option of refusing the test, with the attendant penalties for making that choice. Pp. 459 U. S. 558-564.

2. It would not be fundamentally unfair in violation of due process to use respondent's refusal to take the blood alcohol test as evidence of guilt, even though the police failed to warn him that the refusal could be used against him at trial. Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U. S. 610, distinguished. Such failure to warn was not the sort of implicit promise to forgo use of evidence that would unfairly "trick" respondent if the evidence were later offered against him at trial. Pp. 459 U. S. 564-566.

312 N.W.2d 723, reversed and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 459 U. S. 566.

Page 459 U. S. 554

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