Understanding Your Rights for a DUI Stop in Illinois

27,046 DUI arrests were made in Illinois in 2017.

If your car gets pulled over for a DUI stop, you are probably wondering what your rights are. 

Can you refuse a breathalyzer test? Will there be a field sobriety test? Can police officers search your car without permission?

Let's take a look at some important facts.

The Fourth Amendment 

If you get pulled over for a suspected DUI, you should be aware of your rights. The Fourth Amendment protects "the rights of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."

No one can search your car unless they have good reason to believe that a crime has occurred. However, if you are driving recklessly, swerving, or driving too slowly, it could get deemed probable cause.

The police will have to ask if they can search your car first, and you have a right to politely refuse. If your officer has probable cause, they are allowed to search your car anyway. Refusing, however, can help your attorney to bar evidence that gets brought up during the search.

Be aware that police can open anything in your car, including a locked glove compartment and open containers. If you make an effort to hide something, you will draw attention to it.

Exceptions to The Rule

Your car cannot get searched without a warrant unless the police officer has probable cause. However, there are a few exceptions.

First, if you give consent for your car to get searched, the police can search it in its entirety. This includes the trunk, pockets, and locked containers. If you refuse a search, be sure that you are polite.

Second, if the police officer is standing in a lawful location, they may seize anything that they have reason to believe is contraband. 

Finally, a law enforcement official can gain access to the contents of a vehicle if they impound it. Your car can then be searched without a warrant during the inventory process. 

During the inventory, police officers may look at everything inside your car. This is in order to keep stolen items from getting claimed, and to protect themselves against harmful items.

In order to avoid your car becoming impounded, you can ask the officers to call someone to retrieve it when you get arrested. They may grant that request, but are not obligated to.

A Breathalyzer Test

In Illinois, failing a breathalyzer test is a reason for arresting you. The state holds that driving is a privilege and not a right.

Under the state's implied consent law, all drivers are considered to have given the right to chemical testing if there is probable cause to believe that they are under the influence. This includes breathalyzer, blood, and urine tests.

If you refuse chemical testing, your license will automatically get suspended for a period of time. However, refusing the test may make it harder for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated.

It is illegal to drive in Illinois if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more. You are also forbidden to drive under the influence of drugs, or a combination of the two. It is against the law to drive with any amount of a controlled substance in your body.

The Field Sobriety Test

In a DUI case, a field sobriety test is the next most compelling evidence a prosecutor can bring against you, second only to a breathalyzer test.

The long license suspension that occurs when you refuse a breathalyzer test is not an issue if you refuse a field sobriety test. You will likely still get arrested.

It is possible to fail a field sobriety test if you are sober. Anxiety, medical conditions, and medications can all affect your ability to follow directions and coordinate your body movements.

There are three parts to a field sobriety test. The horizontal gaze nystagmus is considered the most reliable of all three. 

The officer will wave their flashlight, pen, or finger from side to side. They are looking for any jerky movements in your eye.

With the one leg stand, you will need to keep one leg on the ground while you lift the other leg off the ground and begin counting. If you can't balance on one leg or follow directions, the officer will give you a failing score.

Finally, during the walk-and-turn test, you will need to walk in a straight line of nine steps with one toe touching the next heel. You will then turn and walk back the same way in the other direction.

If you can't put your feet together, or walk the wrong number of steps, you will fail this portion of the field test. Most people who fail all three parts of the field test are intoxicated. However, other factors could be at play. They also may administer other field sobriety tests at their discretion.

Consequences of a DUI

The consequences of a DUI in Illinois are some of the most severe in the country. You could be dealing with license suspensions, revocations, high fines, and up to a year in jail for your first offense. 

It is critical that you hire a reputable lawyer with experience in DUI litigation. They will be able to gather evidence and argue your case in a responsible way.

If you have your license taken away, our team can help! For a free consultation, contact us today.