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what are the potential consequences for refusing to take a blood alcohol test during a chicago dui stop

Because Illinois has an implied consent law, there are serious consequences for refusing a blood alcohol content (BAC) test if you are detained in Chicago for suspicion of DUI. Refusal results in an automatic suspension of driving privileges. Some people mistakenly believe that they cannot be convicted of DUI if they refuse a chemical test. This is a common misconception. DUI charges can and will be brought against you if you refuse a chemical test, provided that the police officer has other evidence to prove you were driving while intoxicated.

Regardless of whether there is other evidence of impairment, refusal to take a chemical test still results in an automatic license suspension. Even if you are perfectly sober and can prove it, refusal of the chemical test results in automatic suspension. Refusing a chemical test when sober is never recommended because sobriety provides no defense. If you have been drinking, refusing the chemical test brings about additional penalties on top of DUI charges.

The automatic suspension falls under Illinois’ summary suspension rule. The Secretary of State imposes the summary suspension rather than the court. Because of this, no criminal liability attaches to a summary suspension; however, the Secretary of State imposes the summary suspension without a hearing.

First time refusals of chemical tests result in a minimum one year suspension of full driving privileges. Second time refusals carry a minimum three year suspension.

Eligibility for Monitoring Device Driving Permit

First time offenders may be eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP). This permits them to drive their vehicle during the summary suspension; however, an MDDP cannot be issued until after the first 30 days of the summary suspension, so refusing the chemical test always results in at least 30 days without any driving privileges.

If granted the MDDP, the offender must agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device. These devices require drivers to blow into them before allowing the vehicle to start. If the device reads a BAC level over .005, the car cannot start. So long as drivers are sober, the MDDP allows them to drive anywhere at anytime.

Second time offenders are ineligible for the MDDP.

Out-of-state drivers

Out-of-state drivers detained for DUI in Illinois cannot face a statutory suspension. The Illinois statutory suspension rule only applies to licenses under the purview of the Illinois Secretary of State.

Out-of-state drivers are eligible for criminal prosecution under Illinois law. If an out-of-state driver refuses a chemical test, they may still face arrest on DUI charges if the officer has evidence of DUI other than a chemical test.

Illinois may also report chemical test refusals to the state where drivers are licensed. In those cases, the driver could face sanctions in his or her state, depending on that state’s regulations.

Underage drivers

Underage drivers face the same administrative sanctions for refusing a chemical test.

Challenging a summary suspension

Illinois drivers may challenge summary suspensions by petitioning the circuit court in the county where the alleged DUI took place. The instructions for requesting a hearing are included on the back of the Notice of Summary Suspension, which the police officer gives to the driver at the time they are detained.

The hearing request must be filed within 90 days of the Notice of Summary Suspension’s issuance. Courts call these requests a Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension. As these hearings are complex, obtaining legal counsel is always advisable.

In cases where refusal to take a chemical test is at issue, the courts must narrow the hearing to the question of whether the chemical test was in fact refused, as well as whether the officer had probable cause to request it. Defenses against the charge of DUI itself are irrelevant. Because of the implied consent law, the driver is obligated to take the chemical test upon proper demand by the authorities.

For example, a driver could not challenge the summary suspension on the basis that he has witnesses who can testify that he or she had drunk no alcohol that day. If the test was refused and the officer had probable cause, the suspension stands. Being sober does not in itself establish that the officer had no probable cause. If the driver swerved erratically, for example, the officer may have probable cause, even if the driver was sober. The driver could, however, argue that the officer had no probable cause because the alleged swerving never happened.

What is implied consent?

All states have implied consent laws. Simply put, implied consent means that by driving a vehicle, you agree to submit to chemical tests for alcohol or illicit drugs. These tests can include blood, breath, or urine. Under implied consent, drivers have no right to consult an attorney before testing. The test must also be taken immediately upon demand. Drivers have the right to an additional test performed by a medical professional of their choice.