WHY YOU SHOULD REFUSE THE BREATHALYZER
If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, the police will ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests followed by a request to take a Breathalyzer test. It is important to note that you are not under arrest and you have not been charged with a crime at this point. Law enforcement uses these highly subjective tests to help build its case. In most instances, it is likely in your best interest to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests and to refuse to take the initial Breathalyzer test, even if doing so will result in your arrest.
At the law firm of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., our attorneys have successfully prevailed in numerous DUI cases throughout DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County. If you have been charged with drunk driving, it is crucial to contact us immediately at (630) 474-8000 so we can ensure that your rights are protected while we build you the strongest available defense.
SHOULD YOU CONSENT TO FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS?
In general, it is almost always in your best interest to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. These tests are open to the subjective opinion of the officer who pulled you over, and who is likely to be biased against you due to the fact that he or she pulled you over in the first place. There are a number of different factors that may cause you to perform poorly on field sobriety tests, regardless of your intoxication level, including:
- Bad weather
- Traffic speeding by on the side of the road
- Lack of sleep
- Poor coordination
- Fear and intimidation from interacting with law enforcement
- And many, many more
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU ARE DRUNK
Many people are under the impression that you can “pass” a field sobriety test. While there may be cases where a police officer really believes that you are close to the legal limit and asks you to perform field sobriety tests, in the vast majority of cases, the officer who pulled you over has already decided that he or she has probable cause to make an arrest. In other words, the field sobriety tests are not used to determine whether you are drunk, but rather to gather evidence to strengthen the state’s case against you. It’s one thing for a police officer to say in court that a driver smelled like alcohol and seeming intoxicated, it’s quite another for him or her to have the results of a Breathalyzer test and other field sobriety testing that supports his or her assertion. For this reason, in many cases, it’s advisable to refuse to participate in field sobriety testing even if it results in your arrest. You’re likely facing arrest anyhow, and performing the tests will only strengthen the state’s case against you.
SHOULD YOU REFUSE TO TAKE A BREATH TEST AT THE POLICE STATION?
Illinois, like all states, has what is known as an “implied consent” law. Basically, this means that all drivers consent to a breath test, blood test or urine test if they are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Refusing to consent to these tests means that your driver’s license will be suspended and evidence of your refusal will be used to bolster the case against you in court. However, the constitutionality of implied consent laws is currently unsettled.
The Supreme Court has held that, in most cases, police must obtain a search warrant to draw blood or collect urine. The court believes that this is necessary to ensure that a person’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches is not violated. At this time, the court has not extended this holding to breath tests, although this important question is expected to be decided soon.
If you opt for a blood or urine test, the police must obtain a search warrant. If they fail to do so, it may be possible to get your case dismissed. If you refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test, we can still help defend your rights. Breathalyzer machines are notorious for being unreliable and are prone to malfunction. However, if you consent to a Breathalyzer test at the station and fail, a conviction is almost guaranteed.
Let us handle any questions concerning why you refused to take the test. It may be possible to raise a Fourth Amendment defense or even a Fifth Amendment defense concerning your right against self-incrimination. Our lawyers will thoroughly review the circumstances of your case to help achieve the best possible results.
IF THE POLICE HAVE ARRESTED YOU ON SUSPICION OF DRUNK DRIVING, YOU ARE FACING EXTREMELY SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
If the police have arrested you for drunk driving and you had been drinking, you may feel like there is little you can do but plead guilty and move on with your life. In addition, if this is your first DUI arrest, you may be hoping that you’re going to get little more than a slap on the wrist and that it isn’t worth the time and expense associated with retaining an attorney. The reality is that under Illinois law, even first-time DUI offenders are subject to significant penalties, including the following:
- Substantial fines
- Community service
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing/counseling
- Jail time
In addition to these penalties imposed by the court, if the state has convicted you of DUI, there will likely be significant collateral consequences that you will continue to experience for years to come. For example, your employer is well within its rights to fire you for even allegations of DUI, and a drunk driving conviction on your record could make it very difficult to get a job in the future. If you’ve not yet started working and are planning on going to school, a conviction could affect your chances of admission into the college or university of your choice. What’s more is that a DUI conviction is a matter of public record, which means that anyone who is curious about your past could potentially find out about its existence. As a result, a conviction could have a significant impact on your reputation in your community and your personal life.
Fortunately, a conviction is not a foregone conclusion—even if you “blew” or other forms of sobriety testing. In many cases, an attorney can cast doubt on the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence against you, potentially resulting in an acquittal, a favorable plea bargain offer, or even the state decided to drop its case against you entirely.
CONTACT OUR ATTORNEYS IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH DUI IN ILLINOIS
A positive breath test or refusal to take a breath test does not mean that you are automatically guilty of drunk driving. Protect your rights. Contact us at (630) 474-8000 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Wheaton in DuPage County, we provide criminal defense services to individuals throughout DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County.
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