Blood Alcohol Testing and the Law of Implied Consent in Illinois
If you are pulled over for suspected drunk driving in Illinois, do you know your rights? Once you have been stopped, it is generally a bit too late to take a refresher course on your options; plan ahead and understand your choices.
A police officer must first have probable cause to pull you over. Generally, this means that the police officer noticed you breaking a traffic law. For example, you may be pulled over if the officer witnessed you turning without proper signaling, failing to reach a complete stop at a stop sign or weaving in and out of lanes.
Once the officer pulls you over, he or she is looking for further evidence of intoxication. The officer will likely ask you questions and may request that you get out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. You are not required to answer the officer's questions or perform field sobriety tests, but you are required to get out of the car.
If an officer believes that you have been drinking, you will likely be asked to take a breathalyzer. Illinois follows the law of implied consent. By virtue of driving on Illinois roads, state law asserts that you have given consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine for purposes of determining your blood alcohol content. If you fail to comply with such a test, you will face an automatic license suspension of up to one year, if it is your first arrest in excess of five years from a previous DUI arrest; if it is less, then it is three years.
However, if you fail the test by demonstrating that you have a BAC level above .08, you can also expect a license suspension. Additionally you will have the evidence of a chemical test, which can be used against you in support of DUI allegations. This may be a difficult decision to make and will likely depend largely on the particular circumstances.
One unique exception to the general option of refusing to take a breathalyzer and accepting the consequences is the so-called "no-refusal" weekend. On no-refusal weekends, which have occurred on several occasions in Kane County, judges and prosecutors are on call to prepare search warrants when motorists refuse to submit to testing.
During these time periods, when an individual who is believed to be driving under the influence of alcohol refuses to submit to a breathalyzer, he or she must go before a judge who will compel the individual to take a test. Refusal to comply at that point can again result in penalties.
Of course, it is important to remember that the laws vary from state to state. Drivers pulled over in Wisconsin or Indiana face different considerations and a different balancing of interests than those pulled over in Illinois. For more information following DUI allegations, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help to protect your rights and interests.
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