Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Supreme Court ruling may impact Illinois drivers

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear cases involving motorists who were charged with a crime for failure to take deep-lung breath tests. The question that the court will attempt to answer is whether or not it is legal for states to charge motorists when they refuse to take a breath test when suspected of drunk driving. Currently, 13 states make it a separate crime to refuse blood alcohol tests while three others have considered such laws.

A brief submitted to the Supreme Court said that criminal charges in such statutes violates drivers' rights. However, the state of Minnesota claimed that it only asked drivers to take breath tests after they had been taken into custody and blood and urine tests were requested only after a warrant had been issued.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that drivers could not be subject to blood tests without a warrant. Therefore, the plaintiffs argue that refusing a breath test should not be considered a separate crime. As a general rule, police officers can only conduct searches of drivers or their vehicles to preserve evidence. They may also conduct searches if doing so will preserve their safety during a traffic stop.

An individual who has been charged with drunk driving may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney. It may be possible for legal counsel to create defenses that may result in charges being dropped or reduced. These could include casting doubt on police testimony or arguing that a defendant's car had mechanical issues that caused it to swerve or make other erratic movements. In other cases, the results of field sobriety or breath tests could be challenged.

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