If you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI, it is important to know your rights and the ramifications of your actions. The purpose of this article is to assist you in making decisions that will put you in the best possible position in the event of a DUI.
The Illinois Vehicle Code (623 ILCS 5/1-100, et seq.) requires the Illinois Secretary of State to revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted of a DUI for a minimum of one year.
First-offense DUIs are a Class A misdemeanor for which punishment can be imprisonment for up to 364 days or a fine up to $2,500.00. In addition, if you are convicted of a DUI or receive a summary license suspension, your insurance company is likely to cancel your insurance policy, and your future insurance rates will be significantly increased.
You can read about statutory summary suspension as well as what happens if this is not your first offense here:
If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI the police will typically not permit you to contact your attorney until you have submitted to or declined chemical testing. The police are only required to give you Miranda warnings when they interrogate you, and may administer a breathalyzer test without a Miranda warning.
The officer that pulls you over will likely ask you questions about what you were doing in the hours before being pulled over, your alcohol, food, and drug consumption, or your physical disabilities. You should politely refuse to answer these questions until you are able to consult with your attorney, because any answers you give may make your DUI charge more difficult to defend. If you have been involved in an accident, the only information that you are required to provide the police is personal and vehicle identification information.
Whether to submit to a breathalyzer test is a complicated matter that will heavily depend on your specific situation. Illinois summary suspension law provides that refusal to submit to chemical testing results in an automatic minimum penalty of license suspension for 12 months. First offenders who submit to the test may instead have their license suspended for 6 months if the test shows a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) of 0.08 or greater.
In some Illinois counties, first offenders may be offered court supervision. However, many judges will not allow court supervision if your BAC is 0.20 or greater.
If possible, you should consult with your attorney before deciding whether to submit to chemical testing. If you are unable to reach your attorney, it is advisable to refuse testing if:
Police often use Preliminary Breath Tests (“PBTs”) at the scene of traffic stops before the driver is given the opportunity to consult with an attorney. Refusal to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test will not result in an automatic summary suspension.
The police will usually ask you to undergo coordination tests. Your refusal to submit to a coordination test can be used as evidence against you at trial. However, you will be permitted to explain your reason for refusal. If the police ask you to submit to a coordination test after being arrested, you should speak to your attorney to determine how to proceed. Since a police officer that has already arrested you is not likely to record observations that will place you in a positive light, we typically recommend refusing the coordination test if you are not able to reach your attorney.
If you are arrested for a DUI, it is important to develop favorable evidence for your attorney to use in your defense. If you can have a friend or family member meet you at the police station, that person’s testimony as to your level of intoxication can be used in your defense. If you submit to a chemical test, you should seek an additional test, which may contradict any unfavorable results arising from the police test.
In order to undergo an additional chemical test, you will first be required to post bond. If the police wrongfully refuse to release you on bond, this may be a basis for dismissal of your case due to the wrongful prevention of your ability to undergo an additional chemical test.
If you are arrested for a DUI, your driving privileges and possibly even your freedom will be at stake, and even the smallest misstep may impair your defense. It is crucial to contact your attorney as soon as possible in the process.