Illinois DUI Law

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What to expect if you’re pulled over for DUI

by Chandra Huff,

The order of events during a DUI stop in Illinois is important to know and keep in mind. You may be stopped at a roadside safety check-point or based on a traffic infraction or unusual operation of your vehicle. A police officer cannot stop you (except at a check-point) unless he or she has a reasonable basis to believe that a traffic law or other law has been violated.

Once you are pulled over, the officer observes your behavior and appearance. The officer will ask you for your driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance card. During this time he will be looking for any signs that you are under the influence of alcohol, such as the fumbling of your license, if you are able to follow instructions, whether you smell of alcohol, if you have slurred speech, etc.

If the officer does not suspect the driver is under the influence of alcohol, the driver is released with any applicable traffic violations, but not a DUI / DWI. However, if the officer suspects the driver is under the influence of alcohol based on those observations, the driver is asked to submit to field sobriety tests (FST's).

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If the officer has probable cause based on the field sobriety tests, the driver is placed under arrest for DUI and taken to the police station. The officer must give the arrested driver proper Miranda warnings in order for any statements the driver may make while in custody to be used against him in court. The driver is then asked to submit to chemical testing of breath, urine or blood. Keep in mind that although persons arrested for drunk driving in IL do not have the right to choose the type of chemical test they submit to, a summary suspension will be rescinded where the officer allows the motorist to choose and then refuses to honor his or her choice. Also persons arrested for drunk driving or charged with DUI / DWI in Illinois do not have the right to consult with an attorney prior to deciding to submit to or refuse chemical testing. However, those who are allowed to confer with an attorney cannot be forced to submit to or refuse testing until they have received a full and fair opportunity to obtain a consultation with that attorney.

If the driver submits to a chemical test, and the test determines the driver is not under the influence of alcohol, the driver is released with any applicable violations. If a tested driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than .05 but less than .08 percent, no summary suspension will apply, but the driver can still be charged with a DUI. If the driver's test results show a BAC of .08 percent or more, or any trace of a drug, illegal substance or intoxicating compound, summary suspension will apply and the driver will be charged with a DUI. If the driver's license is valid, the driver will be allowed to continue to use it for 45 days.

If the driver refuses or fails to complete testing, summary suspension will apply and the driver will probably be charged with a DUI. In the state of Illinois, a repeat offender who refuses testing will not be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) during the three-year suspension. A repeat offender who takes the test and fails is not eligible for an RDP during the 12-month suspension.

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There are several other things to keep in mind regarding DUI / DWI violations in Illinois. Field sobriety tests and chemical tests are often found to be inaccurate. There are many things that can affect the results of these tests. For example, you may have an injury that affects your ability to complete the FST’s. Or you may be tired or nervous. Also, if a person smoked a cigarette, belched, etc. shortly before taking a breath test, the results can be inaccurate. These are reasons why finding a good DUI / DWI attorney who knows and understands Illinois drunk driving laws is so important.

Another important aspect of a DUI charge is that the prosecutor must prove that you were actually driving the vehicle. A defendant’s admission to driving, without more, does not prove a charge of driving under the influence. The police officer must have observed you driving the vehicle, or have a reliable basis to prove you were driving. Also, a person who was not driving their car on a public roadway cannot be suspended for drunk driving.

If you or someone you care about is charged with DUI, DWI, or some type of drunk driving offense, it is critical that you contact a lawyer that is familiar with the Illinois laws. Understanding the types of errors that are common, and investigating all the potential problems, is the first step in a successful defense to a DUI, DWI, or drunk driving case.


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