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.