When law enforcement officers suspect that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may pull your vehicle over and ask you to take to a breathalyzer test or other field sobriety tests. Many drivers wonder if they have the right to refuse to take the breathalyzer test and if there are consequences if they do.
The DUI laws in Illinois
According to Illinois law, anyone operating a vehicle within the state has given implied consent to submitting to sobriety and blood alcohol level tests. This means that if you are driving a vehicle on any public road within the state, you are deemed to have consented to testing for intoxicants including alcohol. These tests include the breathalyzer test.
However, there is an important caveat to the law. The implied consent only refers to tests that are conducted following an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). This means that you are not obligated to take a breathalyzer test unless or until you have been arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Risks of refusing to take the breathalyzer test
Does this mean you can refuse to take the breathalyzer test when you are pulled over by a police officer? While you have the right to refuse to take the test, there may be consequences for refusing to do so.
Refusing to take the test may cause the police officer to be suspicious of your motives. They may become even more determined to find cause to arrest you. They will search for signs of impairment such as trouble focusing or slurred speech and arrest you. You will then be required by law to take a BAC test at the police station.
While there are no criminal charges for refusing to take the BAC test prior to arrest, refusal to do so after an arrest will result in an automatic one-year suspension of your driving license. This is the case for first-time offenders. If you already have a similar offense on file and refuse to take the BAC test, your license will be suspended for three years.
Should you refuse to take the breathalyzer test?
So, should you take the test or not? If you have been drinking and submit to the test and your BAC registers a result of 0.8 or above, you will be arrested and charged with DUI. This will in turn result in your license being suspended for 6 months.
It is difficult to defend yourself against a DUI charge after you had submitted to a breathalyzer test. The test result will be used by the state as evidence that you were driving while intoxicated. Refusing a breathalyzer test makes the state’s job harder in proving your guilt. However, refusing the test can lead to a DUI arrest.
If you’ve been charged with DUI, it is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will fight to get the charges against you dropped or reduced. They will fight to ensure your rights are protected.