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Understanding Statutory Summary Suspension in Illinois

Joseph Angelillo, Esq. June 25, 2021

Today, we’re going to be going over statutory summary suspension in Illinois. This law is triggered in situations in which an individual is charged with DUI, specifically in two key situations: (1) when an individual refuses to submit to chemical testing; or (2) when an individual submits to chemical testing and subsequently fails. Effectively what this law does is suspend the license of the individuals who run afoul of it. How long of a suspension your license is placed under is dependent on the specific facts of your case. To put all of this into perspective, we need to take a couple steps back.

You decided to spent a little bit too much of your Tuesday night at the local dive bar just down the street from your home. Staggering out of the establishment after a handful of long island ice teas, you fumble with your keys until you eventually reach your vehicle. Driving home your rear view mirror is filled with the most mesmerizing clash of red and blue lights, and you realize you’re being pulled over. The officer takes one look at you, and asks you out of the vehicle. You agree (against better judgment) to participate in field sobriety tests, which you hilariously fail to complete. The officer then asks you to submit to a breathalyzer test, or a PBT.

Whether or not you decide to participate in the PBT is actually your choice, and you are within your right to refuse the breathalyzer at this point in time. The purposes of this PBT is to ascertain whether or not your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is over the legal limit of .08. A failure of this test will have no impact on your license, but will give the officer probable cause to effectuate an arrest.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to participate in the PBT, you are subsequently arrested for DUI and are brought to the station. You will next be placed in a holding cell for a period of around 20 minutes. It is during this time that the police take note of your overall demeanor, whether or not you exhibit any signs of intoxication. After which point, you are brought out and read something we call a warning to motorist. This sheet of paper lays out that you will be asked to submit to chemical testing, which in most cases is a breathalyzer test, and will list your rights as well as the penalties for either refusing or failing the breathalyzer test. The officer is supposed to read you the entirety of the warning to motorist, which you then acknowledge your understanding of it by signing at the bottom.

So what’s the difference between this breathalyzer test, and the one you originally were doing out on the street? The PBT is inadmissible at any subsequent trial and is treated no differently than the other field sobriety tests you conducted prior to the officer asking you to submit it. This breathalyzer test conducted at the police station is considered to be an evidential breathalyzer test, the results of which can be introduced as evidence at trial, and is where the laws regarding statutory summary suspension come into play.

In the state of Illinois, we have something called implied consent as it pertains to breathalyzer tests. Meaning, that by operating a motor vehicle in the state of Illinois, you are assumed to have consented to any breathalyzer testing (as well as blood or urine testing) when you’re arrested for a DUI. Depending on what you do in this situation dictates whether or not the law for statutory suspension come into play and how long of a suspension you will have on your license. If you choose to take the breathalyzer and subsequently blow over .08, your license will be suspended for six months. However, if you refuse to blow into the breathalyzer, your license is suspended for one full year.

For the sake of this article, lets assume you blow into the breathalyzer and register over the legal limit of .08. Within a few days after your arrest, you will receive an official notice in the mail from the secretary of state informing you that your license will be suspended 46 days from the date of your arrest. You are free to drive within that 46 day window, but once the suspension date comes, you are no longer able to drive in the State of Illinois.

What needs to be understood about statutory summary suspensions is that it is an entirely separate case from the overlying criminal action you’re being prosecuted for. A common misconception is that a victory in a DUI case means that the suspension of your license will also be lifted, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In order for the suspension of your license to be lifted, you need to challenge the suspension by filing a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension.

When filing a petition to rescind, you need to state the specific reasons for why your summary suspension should be lifted. The statute regarding summary suspensions (625 ILCS 5/2-118.1) lays out the fiver different arguments you can raise as the basis for the motion, which are:

  1. I was not properly placed under arrest for an offense as defined in 625 ILCS 5/11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs_ or a similar provision of a local ordinance, as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket to other form of charge;

  2. The arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that i was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol/and or other drugs, or a combination thereof;

  3. I was not properly warned by the arresting officer as provided in 625 ILCS 5/11-501/1(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code;

  4. I did not refuse to submit to and/or complete the required chemical test or tests, pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(d) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, upon the request of the arresting officer;

  5. I submitted to the requested test or tests, but the test sample of my blood alcohol concentration did not indicate a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Whichever reasons you decide to proceed under is determined by the specific facts surrounding your individual case. Now because you filed the petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension, the burden of proof is placed on you to prove one of the five items listed above for why your summary suspension should be lifted. The State will have every opportunity to cross examine any witnesses you call, and challenge any piece of evidence you seek to introduce. After you have rested, the State will then have their opportunity to call their own witnesses and bring forward their own evidence for why your petition to rescind should fail.

Even if the result of your petition doesn’t go your way, you still have other avenues to take in order to maintain your driving privileges during the period of your suspension. You can elect to obtain a BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) installed in your vehicle, or your attorney could negotiate your summary suspension being lifted in lieu of you pleading guilty to the DUI charge.

I’ve handled several DUI’s over the years, and successfully won petitions to rescind on several occasions. A DUI is a serious charge, and the loss of driving privileges for most individuals places an unfair hardship on them and their families. Having handled several of these cases prior, I can work with you to help mitigate the impact of your loss of driving privileges by any means necessary. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, and have had your driving privileges revoked, contact my office immediately for your free consultation.