Should I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
When a person is stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol , the officer may ask him or her to take a breath, blood, or urine test. Often, a field sobriety test and breath test are used during traffic stops to determine whether the driver’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.
Most people are familiar with the purpose of a breathalyzer. They have either themselves been asked to breathe into one in order to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC) or they have seen the process on television or in movies. If a driver’s BAC is found to be 0.08 or higher, he or she is considered legally intoxicated and will be charged with a DUI. But what happens if a driver simply refuses to take the blood alcohol content test?
Implied Consent and BAC Tests
By driving on public streets you are already consenting to a blood alcohol content test. Because Illinois has an “implied consent” law, you agree to submit to chemical testing for alcohol impairment by the act of driving a vehicle on the road. You may know that a criminal suspect must be read their Miranda rights before he or she can be interrogated by the police, and many believe that the same holds true for BAC testing. In reality, an officer does not need to read someone their rights or provide access to a lawyer before subjecting them to a chemical test the way they would before a police interrogation.
However, even though Illinois is an implied consent state, drivers still have the right to refuse a blood alcohol test. And if the driver has had more than a couple of drinks, refusal is typically the right decision. Drivers must know though, that by refusing the chemical test, longer license suspensions apply. Regardless of whether you take the breath test or refuse, you will still able to contest your license suspension in court.
Suspensions in Illinois vary based on the individual’s DUI history and whether they are considered a “first timer”, that is whether they have had a DUI or DUI suspension within the last five (5) years. The first time a person refuses to take a chemical BAC test, their driver’s license is suspended for one year. A second or third refusal (within that 5 year period) will result in their driver’s license being suspended for three years. If a person takes the chemical BAC test and fails it—meaning that their blood alcohol content is above the legal limit—their license will be suspended for six months for a first offense or one year if the driver has that previous DUI arrest or DUI suspension within the last 5 years.
Get Help With Your DUI Case
If you have been charged with a DUI or have questions about your rights, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney today. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba.