An arrest for any criminal activity in Illinois may make people suspicious of whether you actually committed the offense or not, but in Illinois as elsewhere in the United States: you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That means, or is supposed to mean, you cannot be punished until you either plead guilty or are found guilty by a judge or jury.
That doesn't happen in DUI cases. A DUI arrest can lead to immediate penalties even before a judge or jury finds you guilty. In fact, there are a lot of things different in DUI cases than in any other type of criminal case. Here's what you should know about DUI arrests.
Penalty Prior to a DUI Conviction
When you are pulled over and the officer suspects illegal intoxication, you may be asked to breathe into a breathalyzer – also known as a preliminary breath test (PBT). Sometimes, people refuse.
In cases, where a person refuses to incriminate him or herself by not blowing into the machine, his or her driver's license will be taken away and driving privileges will be automatically suspended. The same is true if you blew into the breathalyzer and the result was a breath alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher.
It should be noted that PBTs are notorious for inaccurate BAC results – as such, they are not permitted as evidence for your DUI case. With that said, without adequate proof or (worse yet) without a conviction, you are penalized. And driver's license suspension is not an insignificant penalty – it can really mess things up for you and your family in your day-to-day living.
Constitutional Rights Do Not Always Apply
Persons accused of crimes have certain rights afforded them via the U.S. Constitution. For one, you have the right not to incriminate yourself. Yet, you are required to blow into a breathalyzer, effectively incriminating yourself, unless you want to suffer automatic suspension of your driver's license.
Also, according to the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to privacy, which also means the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. That's not always the case with DUI investigations. Unlike your home, where your consent or a warrant is needed to search, the police may be able to search your vehicle and your person without this warrant or your consent if they alleged they have probable cause to do so.
The Key Takeaway
The key thing to remember is this: DUIs are not like other crimes. You can be penalized before you are convicted. And what can't be done in other criminal cases could be done in your case. You need an attorney who is able to identify when the police have overstepped their limits. You need an attorney who understands DUI law and has the insight to know when your rights have been violated. Contact Dolci & Weiland to learn more.