How Exactly Is a DUI Defined Under Illinois Law?
In the state of Illinois, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) law is explained in 625 ILCs 5/11-501. It states that it is illegal for an individual to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. The most common intoxicating substance that individuals are charged with DUI for is alcohol. If an individual submits to a blood or breath sample and it registers above 0.08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), that individual can be charged with a DUI. Many people do not realize that other intoxicating compounds can also lead to DUI charges, if the officer suspects that they are under the influence and unable to properly use a motor vehicle. Medications with a side effect of drowsiness is a prime example.
Drug paraphernalia or a combination of drugs and alcohol can also place you in a situation where you could be at risk for a potential DUI charge. The law itself is written rather broadly, so it allows for the officer to have a wide range of things to look for. Even if you are asked to take a breathalyzer test and it registers below the legal limit but you demonstrate the following, the officer still might charge you with DUI.
are so inebriated that you cannot stand,
exhibit severe signs of intoxication,
unable to operate a motor vehicle efficiently, or
pose a danger to yourself or others on a public roadway
What Information Is Someone Required to Provide to Law Enforcement During a DUI Investigation?
There are only three things that you need to provide to a police officer when you are involved in a traffic stop. You need to show the police officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance. You should always have these items readily accessible at all times.
From the moment you are pulled over by a police officer, the officer’s investigation has already begun. When he walks up to your vehicle, he may shine a light inside of your windows to see what is within plain view and to see if you have any contraband that he can readily identify. When he first appears at your window, he is looking at your eyes to see if they are bloodshot or glassy. He is listening to your speech to see if it is slurred or thick tongued. The officer will look to see if you appear unkempt, or if you are fumbling through your wallet just to find your ID. All of these things are context clues that an officer will see, and will use against you to justify them taking the next step, which is asking you to exit your vehicle to perform a field sobriety tests.
Any and all information outside of your license, registration, and proof of insurance is unnecessary to share with a police officer. In most situations, they will ask you questions such as where you are headed or what you are doing. The purpose of these questions is to get you to engage with them, so that they can make further deductions of your demeanor based on how you answer the questions. The goal in mind whenever dealing with police officers is to limit as much interaction as possible, especially if you’re concerned that the officer will conduct a DUI investigation. If the officer asks you anything outside of providing those three items, you very calmly and respectfully tell them that under the advice of an attorney, I do not wish to answer any questions and leave it at that. Remain as calm and respectful as possible when addressing the officer. Everything you do is watched by the officer. The goal is to limit any indicators that may convey that you are currently in violation of operating your motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Do I Have to Give a Breath or Blood Sample During DUI Arrest in Cook County or Du Page County?
There are two separate instances during a DUI investigation, in which you will be prompted to provide a breath or blood sample. The first is on the scene during the officers investigation for DUI. The officer may ask you to perform what is called a Portable Breathalyzer Test or a PBT. The second is usually at the station, and that is considered to be an evidentiary test. Comparatively, the first test is rather inconsequential when compared to the second, so refusing a portable breathalyzer test has no impact on your guilt. It only gives the officer probable cause to arrest you. The second one is most important in terms of any future DUI trial or the evidence that could be used against you. The evidentiary test is conducted after you have already been arrested.
One of the key differences between the two is that a portable breathalyzer test cannot be introduced as evidence in a subsequent trial or proceeding. The evidentiary test can be. Whether or not you should refuse it is a question as to the individual facts of each person’s case. A refusal of the evidentiary test will lead to your license being suspended in the state of Illinois. Under Illinois law, we have something called Implied Consent Law. This means when you operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway, you are agreeing to perform a breath or blood sample test, or evidentiary test when asked by a police officer. By refusing you are running afoul of that law, and that is what triggers the Secretary of State to issue a suspension of your license.
If you do decide to refuse the evidentiary test taken at the station, your license can be suspended for one year, assuming this is your first time. If you take the test and fail it, it will lead to a six-month suspension. If it is not your first time taking an evidentiary test, or if this is not your first time being charged with a DUI and you refuse to take the test, it will lead to a three-year driver’s license suspension. If you take the test and fail, you will receive a one-year suspension, assuming that the previous violation occurred within five years of the second violation. One of the most damaging consequences that you could face as a result of BAC test refusal is that the prosecutor can use your refusal as evidence against you in court. The prosecutor can argue that you refused the testing because you knew that you would fail. This is what is known as the Conscientiousness of Guilt.