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Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test During a DUI Traffic Stop?

 Posted on April 28, 2023 in DUI Law

dupage county DUI defense lawyerIn Illinois, DUI (driving under the influence) is a serious crime that can lead to significant legal and financial consequences. If you are pulled over for suspected DUI, the officer is likely to ask you to take a breathalyzer test. In this situation, you may be concerned about whether agreeing to take a breathalyzer test could lead to a DUI arrest, and you may be unsure about whether you may face penalties if you refuse to take the test. By understanding your rights under Illinois law, you can determine the best way to proceed in this situation. If you are facing DUI charges, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to understand your options for defending against a conviction.

Implied Consent in DUI Cases

Illinois and other states throughout the country have implied consent laws that address when a driver is required to consent to testing to determine if they are intoxicated. These laws state that anyone who is driving on public roads is considered to have consented to chemical testing to determine whether they are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. However, the implied consent law applies to testing performed after a person is arrested rather than tests an officer asks a person to submit to during a traffic stop.

When a person is stopped by a police officer who suspects that they may have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs, the officer may use several different methods to determine whether there is probable cause to perform an arrest. In addition to observing a driver's behaviors while looking for indicators of intoxication or asking the driver to step out of their vehicle and take field sobriety tests, an officer may ask the driver to take a roadside breathalyzer test. This test will involve blowing into a handheld device, which will measure the alcohol in the driver's breath and provide an estimate of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Portable breathalyzer tests used during traffic stops are not always accurate, and they are only used to help an officer establish probable cause. They generally are not considered valid evidence of a driver's intoxication, although if an officer testifies against a person in a DUI trial, they may explain how they used their observations and the estimates provided by a breathalyzer test to determine that the driver was likely to be intoxicated. A driver is allowed to refuse to take a roadside breathalyzer test, and this refusal on its own will not result in any legal penalties. However, declining a portable breathalyzer test may be seen as an indication that a driver is intoxicated, and it may give an officer probable cause to arrest the driver on suspicion of DUI.

After a driver is arrested, they will be taken to a police station, where they will be asked to take a chemical test to determine whether they are intoxicated. Depending on the situation, a driver may be asked to blow into a breathalyzer, have their blood drawn, or give a urine sample. These tests are covered by implied consent laws, and drivers are required by law to take them.

A driver may refuse to take a chemical test, but doing so will result in the automatic suspension of their driver's license. This is known as a statutory summary suspension, and a one-year suspension will apply for a first offense, while a three-year suspension will apply for a second offense within five years. On the other hand, if a driver agrees to take a chemical test, and the test shows that they have a BAC of at least .08 percent or that they have drugs in their system, their license will be suspended for six months for a first offense or one year for a second or subsequent offense within five years. A statutory summary suspension will apply even if a driver is not charged or convicted of DUI. If they are convicted, they will face additional penalties, including potential jail time, fines, and a driver's license revocation.

Contact Our Naperville DUI Lawyer for Breathalyzer Tests

If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI or arrested on DUI charges, you will need to make sure to understand your rights and options. While refusing a breathalyzer test may be a good idea in some situations, it is always best to consult with an attorney before determining how to proceed. At the Law Office of Philip R. Nathe, our DuPage County DUI defense attorney can provide you with the legal help and representation you need in these situations. We will make sure your rights are protected, and we will help you take the correct steps to avoid a conviction if at all possible. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 630-416-7600.


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