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What Are the Risks When Refusing a Breath Test in Illinois?

Posted on in Traffic Offenses

What Are the Risks When Refusing a Breath Test in Illinois?As the state of Illinois continues to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, more and more people are starting to venture to the state’s bars and restaurants once again. This means that patrons again have access to establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. If you decide to go out and enjoy a few drinks with a small group of friends, you should know that police departments around the region are on the lookout for drunk drivers. As a result, you could be stopped and asked to take a breath test to make sure that your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is under the legal limit. Regardless of how much you have had to drink, refusing a breath test under certain circumstances could lead to serious consequences.

Illinois’ Implied Consent Laws

When you drive on the public streets and highways of Illinois, state law presumes that you have given your “implied consent” to submit to BAC testing. In the course of a traffic stop, the officer may request a preliminary breath test as part of his or her efforts to determine if there is probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI). If the officer establishes probable cause and arrests you, you will be asked to submit to an evidentiary BAC test.

There is an important distinction between the two types of testing. Preliminary BAC testing is not generally admissible as evidence in court, and you can refuse a preliminary BAC test with no formal consequences. Of course, your refusal is likely to make the officer look a bit harder for other indications that you are intoxicated. Once you are arrested, however, things change dramatically. If you refuse an evidentiary BAC test subsequent to an arrest on suspicion of DUI, you will almost certainly lose your driver’s license.

Statutory Summary Suspension

Prosecutors cannot file additional criminal charges for refusing a BAC test after your arrest, but that does not meet that you cannot be punished. Instead, administrative penalties will be handed down in the form of a statutory summary suspension of your driving privileges. While the court system is responsible for prosecuting charges of DUI, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has the authority to suspend and revoke your driver’s license, regardless of how your criminal case is decided.

If you fail a BAC test subsequent to your arrest, your license will automatically be suspended. In this context, “failing” means that your BAC was 0.08 or higher, assuming that you are over the age of 21 and were driving a non-commercial vehicle. A first-time failure will result in a suspension of six months, while a second or subsequent failure will lead to a one-year suspension.

A refusal is even more serious. Refusing a BAC test for the first time will result in a one-year suspension of your driving privileges. If you are arrested again and refuse a second time, your license will be suspended for three years. It is important to understand that, unless you take direct action, the statutory summary suspension will remain in effect even if the DUI charges against you are dismissed.

Seek Help from a Crystal Lake DUI Attorney

If you are in danger of losing your license due to refusing a BAC test, an experienced McHenry County DUI defense attorney can help you explore your available options. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to help you stay on the road legally as your case progresses. Call 815-338-3838 for a free consultation at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, today.




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