What to Expect When Pulled over for a DUI in Illinois
No one plans to drive drunk. Drunk drivers can cause a great deal of harm, both to others on the road, and to their own futures and pocketbooks. If you find yourself being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Illinois, here is a brief summary of what to expect in the DUI process.
The officer will be closely monitoring your behavior, so remain calm.
As soon as an officer notices you and begins to suspect that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he will be watching your behavior carefully to gather evidence of intoxication. Find a safe place to pull over, do not make lots of sudden movements in your car, and calmly wait for the officer to approach you.
Unlike Many States, Refusing Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois Can Result in Suspension of Your License
Most people want to appear as agreeable and cooperative as possible when pulled over on suspicion of a violation of the law. However, you may have heard that you should always refuse to take a blood alcohol level test on a portable breathalyzer prior to arrest. In some states, drivers have a right to refuse a breath test prior to arrest, but in Illinois, the law was recently altered to state that any driver in Illinois has implicitly consented to participate in field sobriety tests. If you refuse to take these tests, you may be subject to suspension of your license for a period of up to a year. The results of the handheld blood alcohol test are not admissible in court, however, and evidence of your blood alcohol level percentage should come from a chemical test conducted under certain strict rules after you’ve been arrested. You do have the right to have your blood alcohol level re-tested at an independent medical facility, to contrast with the state’s evidence.
Your License May be Summarily Suspended if You Refuse a Chemical Test
If the police officer has probable cause to believe you were driving while intoxicated and takes you to the police station, you will then be required to submit to testing of your blood, breath, or urine to determine your blood alcohol content. If your blood alcohol level is shown to be at .08 or above, your license will be suspended for 6 months; should you refuse to submit to such testing on your first time being charged with a DUI, your license will be suspended for a year. Regardless of the reason for the suspension, if it is your first offense, you may be eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit after 31 days of license suspension. This allows the driver to have a blood alcohol ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, which, in Illinois, will both test the driver’s blood alcohol level and take their picture while completing the testing before the car will start.
With both a driving privilege suspension pursuant to a refusal to take a chemical test, and pursuant to test results showing a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, the license suspension will enter into effect after a 45-day notice period. The suspension will automatically take effect on the 46th day after you’ve been told that your license will be suspended, unless you request a judicial hearing to challenge your arrest and a court intervenes in some way.
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, seek experienced legal help. A failing blood alcohol test does not always mean that you will be found guilty, and a skilled attorney can ensure that you’re not punished for a crime that you did not commit, or that your driving privileges are not suspended any longer than necessary. Contact an attorney as soon as you can to ensure that you get the best possible outcome after an arrest. Call experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney John Fairman for a consultation on your DUI arrest, at 708-960-4806 for our Oak Lawn/Chicago office, and 708-799-4848 for our Homewood location.