Approaching Holiday Season Means Increased Patrols in Illinois
As the winter holiday season approaches, Lake County area police will be stepping up their DUI enforcement efforts throughout the county. If you are going to be out drinking, the best way to ensure that you are not ensnared by these efforts is to take a cab, use a designated driver or make other arrangements to get home.
To pull you over for suspected DUI, the police first must have probable cause to do so. In practical terms, this usually happens when the police witness you breaking a traffic law, like speeding or driving well below the speed limit, weaving in and out of lanes of traffic or failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. In fact, minor traffic violations are one of the most common ways the police find drunk drivers.
Police officers look for a variety of indicators to spot potential drunk drivers, including:
- Turning widely
- Braking erratically
- Driving without headlights
- Weaving, swerving, drifting out of the lanes
- Straddling the center line
- Responding slowly to a change in traffic signals
- Turning abruptly
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
Once you are pulled over, the police officer will begin assessing whether you are drunk. This will include looking to see if your eyes are bloodshot, if you smell of alcohol, if you slur your speech and display other visible signs of intoxication. The officer’s impressions of you can be enough to arrest you for a suspected DUI and give the probable cause necessary to ask you to take a breathalyzer.
A DUI conviction in Illinois comes with steep penalties for even first time offenders, including up to one year in jail, up to $2500 in fines, a six month license suspension and mandatory use of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID).
DUI Stops Can Result in Arrests for Other Crimes
While every driver stopped for a potential DUI may not ultimately be charged with violating Illinois’ drunk driving laws, the stop gives police officers the opportunity to find other violations the driver may have committed.
Some of the most common violations that are discovered during a DUI stop include:
- Driving on a revoked or restricted driver’s license
- Illegal firearms
- Drug possession
- Outstanding arrest warrants
During a DUI stop, the police can only search your vehicle if they have probable cause to believe they will find evidence of a crime or other legal violation. If the police have probable cause, they can search inside your vehicle, including the glove compartment and the trunk.
The police also can confiscate anything from your vehicle that may be in plain view. This can include a beer can peeking out from underneath the passenger’s seat, a baggie of drugs tucked inside a cup holder or other contraband that can be viewed from their position outside of the car.
What to Do If You Have Been Pulled Over for a DUI
When you are pulled over by the police, whether for a suspected DUI or other charge, it is important that you are courteous to the police officer. You should know, though, that you do not need to answer any of the officer’s questions, especially if the officer asks if you have had anything to drink. From the moment you are pulled over, the officer is collecting information about you to determine whether or not you can be charged with drunk driving or another offense.
If the police officer asks you to get out of the car, you are required to do so. However, never in any circumstances give the police officer permission to search your car, even if you believe you have nothing to hide. You also are not legally required to complete any field sobriety tests, which are just another way to collect evidence against you to charge you with a DUI. While you can refuse to perform a breathalyzer, Illinois law will penalize you for it with up to a one year license suspension.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney can began working for you to determine the strength and legality of the evidence collected against you. For example, if the police did not have probable cause to search your vehicle, then the search was illegal and any evidence they gathered during it is not admissible at trial.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney
DUI laws in Illinois have become so severe that even one drink can put you at risk for being charged with a drunk driving offense. While it is always best to avoid driving at all after drinking, sometimes mistakes are made and the last thing you need is for anyone, including your attorney, to judge you for it.
For more information on defending against a DUI charge, contact a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney today.
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