If you are pulled over or arrested in Illinois for suspected intoxicated driving, chances are you will be asked to take at least one sobriety test. These can include field exams meant to estimate sobriety, and chemical tests which measure blood alcohol content (BAC). Failing a field test can lead to a DUI arrest, and scoring a BAC of 0.05 or higher after arrest can result in DUI charges and convictions which may permanently impact your life.
Deciding what to do in these situations can be difficult, especially when refusing to take a sobriety test or taking one and scoring a BAC of 0.05 or higher can both severely hurt your DUI case. However, knowing Illinois' DUI laws and the Secretary of State's regulations can help you make the right decision if you are ever pulled over or arrested for intoxicated driving. This article will explain key facts in Illinois DUI law, the possible consequences of refusing a sobriety test, and your options if you are dealing with a DUI arrest or charge.
Illinois DUI Laws and Secretary of State Regulations
The first thing to be aware of when discussing any DUI-related topic is that, In Illinois, a DUI charge or conviction involves both the criminal justice system and the Office of the Secretary of State. A DUI charge may result in criminal convictions and penalties. It may also result in a revoked or suspended driver's license, which is processed through the Office of the Secretary of State.
Additionally, your refusal or compliance in taking sobriety tests may affect both your DUI criminal case and your driving privileges. When deciding whether you will take a sobriety test, it's important to take all possible consequences into consideration.
Illinois Sobriety Tests – Before vs. After Arrest
The second key fact worth knowing is that major differences exist between the field sobriety tests you are asked to take when pulled over and the chemical tests you are asked to take following a DUI arrest.
Field Sobriety Tests
If you are pulled over under suspicion of intoxicated driving, the officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test, such as blowing into a portable breathalyzer or walking in a straight line.
You are not legally required to take a field sobriety test after being pulled over. Theoretically, you may refuse to take any field sobriety test asked of you prior to arrest and not have your license suspended. However, whether or not that actually happens is a different story altogether.
The lack of legal obligation to take a field sobriety test is complicated by the subjectivity of these tests and the fact that you can still be arrested based on other signs of intoxication. You can refuse a field test, but there is a strong chance you may still be arrested, after which you are legally required to complete at least one sobriety test.
Chemical Sobriety Tests After an Arrest
Unlike when pulled over, there is a legal obligation which requires you to take one or more sobriety tests if you are arrested for a DUI. In most cases, these tests involve submitting blood, urine, or breath samples at the police station, or blowing in the breath machine installed in some police vehicles. You may refuse, but that refusal comes with consequences.
Consequences of Refusing or Failing a Sobriety Test
The results from a sobriety test, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on both your DUI case and your driving privileges. Penalties given by the Secretary of State can not replace any criminal penalties which may arise from a DUI case, and vice versa.
Secretary of State Consequences of Refusing or Failing Sobriety Testing
Refusal to take sobriety tests can result in a statutory summary suspension by the Illinois Secretary of State. A first offense can result in a 1-year suspension, while subsequent offenses can result in 3-year suspensions.
On the other hand, failing a sobriety test (scoring a BAC of 0.08 or higher) can also lead to a statutory summary suspension of 6 months for first offenses and 1 year for subsequent offenses taking place within five years of the first offense.
An option exists in Illinois for first-time DUI offenders or refusals facing a statutory summary suspension to obtain a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDPP) which allows them to operate vehicles equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID).
Illinois Criminal Consequences of Refusing or Failing Sobriety Testing
While you will not receive statutory summary suspension if your BAC is lower than 0.08, you may still face DUI charges if it is higher than 0.05. The results from sobriety tests taken after arrest can be used against you by the prosecution.
On the other hand, any refusal to take a sobriety test may also be used against you if you are charged and tried for a DUI. While there can be benefits to not having your BAC recorded as evidence, there may also be complications if the prosecution chooses to argue that your refusal is sign of guilt.
Should You Take a Sobriety Test? Weighing the Pros and Cons
Regardless of whether you take a sobriety test or refuse, there can be possible negative consequences. If you refuse, you may face license suspension and your refusal can negatively impact any resulting DUI criminal case. However, if you take a sobriety test and your BAC is above 0.05, that provides solid evidence for the prosecution to use against you in court.
There is no straight answer as to whether you should take a sobriety test, but more often than not, if the likelihood is high that your BAC is above 0.05, the benefits of refusing a sobriety test can outweigh the benefits of complying. It is much easier to justify your refusal and to obtain an MDPP for the duration of your license suspension, than to argue against the numbers obtained from a sobriety test.
I Already Took the Test or Refused. Now What Do I Do?
If you are at a point where you are facing a DUI arrest or charges, it is critical that you seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible. Maybe you have already taken one or more sobriety tests, or perhaps you refused and are still facing criminal charges. Regardless of what your case may be and what has already happened, it is important to take the right steps going forward.
A seasoned DUI defense attorney can protect you from a system who is looking to convict you. The odds in a DUI case can often be stacked against you, which is why you need an aggressive legal advocate who is looking out for your rights and your wellbeing. Whether your case involves facing the criminal justice system, the Secretary of State, or both, the odds are much better with an experienced lawyer at your side.
Contact Top DuPage DUI Lawyers at Dolci & Weiland
If you or a loved one are dealing with DUI charges and feeling uncertain of the future, we are here to help. The dedicated DUI attorneys at Dolci & Weiland have over 25 years of experience defending DUI cases in Illinois, and we are here to fight your case so you can move forward with your life. To speak to an attorney or to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 630-261-9098