Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test if I Am Suspected of an Illinois DUI?

St. Charles criminal defense DUI attorney

In Illinois, it is against the law to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. During a police stop in which an officer suspects that a person was driving under the influence (DUI), breathalyzers or field sobriety tests may be used to estimate a driver’s BAC. However, a police officer cannot force a driver to submit to a breath test or field sobriety test. Technically, Illinois motorists do have the option to refuse the test. However, doing so may result in several negative consequences.    

Understanding “Implied Consent” in Illinois

Many people do not realize it, but they actually give police officers permission to test their blood alcohol content when they choose to drive on Illinois roads. Illinois law states that drivers give “implied consent” to testing for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or drugs in their system. Police officers are permitted to request a breath test or other chemical test if there is probable cause to believe that someone who is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a law enforcement officer suspects a motorist of driving while intoxicated, he or she will typically ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests and/or a breath test. If the driver refuses to take these roadside tests, this refusal may give the officer probable cause to make an arrest. Following the arrest, a driver will be asked to take a breath, blood, or urine test to measure their BAC. The implied consent laws apply to these post-arrest tests, and refusal to submit to this type of testing will result in administrative penalties, in addition to any criminal penalties resulting from a DUI conviction.  

What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Breath Test?

If you do not submit to a chemical blood alcohol test following a DUI arrest, you will be subject to a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license, which will go into effect 46 days after receiving notice of the suspension. This means that you will lose your ability to legally drive for a period of time. If you have not been convicted of DUI or have not refused to take a BAC test in the past five years, the period of driver’s license suspension for refusing to take a chemical test is one year. If you have been convicted of DUI or refused a BAC test in the past five years, the suspension period is three years. If you take a chemical test and are above the legal BAC limit, your license will be suspended for six months for a first offense and one year for a subsequent offense. Refusing a breath test does not mean that you cannot be convicted of DUI. The prosecution may argue that your refusal to take a breath test is evidence of the fact that you knew your BAC was above the legal limit.

Contact a St. Charles Criminal Defense Lawyer

In Illinois, refusing a blood alcohol test will result in the loss of your driving privileges, and it will not guarantee that you will avoid a DUI conviction. If you are convicted of DUI, you will face heavy fines, license revocation, jail time, and other consequences. For help fighting DUI charges, contact the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with our knowledgeable and dedicated Illinois DUI defense attorneys by calling us today at 630-232-1780.