What if I Refuse to Take a Breath Test During an Illinois DUI Stop?

St. Charles drunk driving defense lawyer

As in every other U.S. state, it is against the law to drive while drunk in Illinois. If a motorist is caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and is subject to criminal penalties. Many DUI charges arise after a police officer administers a chemical breath test to determine a driver’s BAC. An officer cannot physically force someone to take a breath test, so technically the driver has the right to refuse this test. However, refusing to submit to chemical BAC testing can result in significant penalties.

Illinois' Implied Consent Law

If a police officer notices a motorist who is driving erratically, drifting between lanes, or otherwise appears intoxicated, he or she has probable cause to pull that driver over. If the driver shows indications of impairment such as slurred speech, red eyes, or the smell of alcohol, the officer may arrest the driver on suspicion of DUI. In order to determine how intoxicated the driver is, the officer may ask him or her to submit to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests. If the officer believes that the driver is under the influence, he or she will arrest the driver, and at the police station, the driver will be asked to submit to a chemical blood alcohol test of his or her blood, breath, or urine. Illinois’ implied consent law states that anyone who is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle has given consent to chemical BAC testing.

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer

Refusing a breath test is not technically a crime. However, if a driver chooses not to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical BAC test after a DUI arrest, he or she can face serious administrative penalties. Anyone who refuses to take a chemical blood alcohol test will automatically be subject to a “statutory summary suspension.” This means that the driver will lose his or her ability to legally drive a vehicle for a certain amount of time. If the driver has not had any other statutory summary suspensions or DUI convictions in the past five years, his or her suspension period will last one year. If the motorist has been convicted of a DUI or refused a breath test in the last five years, the suspension is increased to three years. It is important to note that a driver can still be charged and convicted of DUI even if he or she did not submit to a chemical breath test.

Contact a St. Charles DUI Defense Lawyer

Being convicted of drunk driving can have a devastating impact on your personal and professional life. If you are facing DUI charges, you need to understand your rights regarding this type of criminal offense. That is why it is important to seek legal counsel right away. Contact our experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys who will carefully review the circumstances that led to your arrest and help build a strong defense for you. Call the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC at 630-232-1780 today to schedule your free, confidential consultation.