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Cook County DUI attorneyRoadside sobriety testing can be embarrassing, frightening, and sometimes confusing. Officers do not always use the most reliable or reasonable methods for attempting to make a snap judgment about a person’s level of intoxication. More than that, roadside sobriety testing can sometimes be greatly unfair, occasionally to the point where the results genuinely reveal little or nothing about whether a person is intoxicated. Police officers are often more interested in making a DUI arrest than in ensuring fair and reasonable field sobriety tests, on which they frequently base their decisions to make an arrest. Many factors, from weather-related challenges to improper footwear or poorly articulated instructions, can create unfairness, and even affect the validity of a roadside sobriety test. If you suspect that you were set up to fail a roadside sobriety test, it is important to raise this point with your criminal defense attorney. 

Unfair Challenges During Roadside Sobriety Tests 

If you have ever seen roadside sobriety testing demonstrated, it was likely in a well-lit area on a mostly flat surface. Under conditions like these, field sobriety tests can offer relatively strong evidence of a person’s intoxication or sobriety. However, your field sobriety tests may not offer much information about your state at the time of arrest if you were faced with unfair challenges such as:  

  • High winds - High winds can throw off a person’s sense of balance, particularly when they are attempting to stand on one leg or walk in a perfectly straight line. Officers may claim that a person was swaying from side to side when in reality, they were struggling against high winds.

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IL defense lawyerGetting charged with a DUI can be frightening. If you find out that you have been charged with a felony DUI, the situation is even direr. Felony charges can carry more than a year of prison time should you get convicted. While most DUIs are charged as a misdemeanor, even a first DUI can lead to felony charges in the wrong circumstances. Or, repeated DUIs can be charged as a felony. In some cases, it is possible for an attorney to help have your charges reduced back to a misdemeanor or dismissed. A lot will depend on the specific facts of your case, such as whether you injured someone and whether the police officers did everything correctly. The first thing you need to do is reach out to a qualified criminal defense attorney.

What Is Misdemeanor DUI?

A simple first or even second DUI is generally going to be charged as a misdemeanor. If you were simply pulled over with a BAC that was a bit too high, you are more likely than not looking at a misdemeanor, which carries less than a year of jail time. If this is your first offense, then a good attorney can typically make a strong case that jail time is not appropriate. Your attorney is very likely to suggest that you take the initiative of getting treatment for alcohol abuse.

Why Would a DUI be Charged as a Felony?

If you are being charged with a felony DUI, it is probably for one of these reasons:

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cook-county-dui-defense-lawyer.jpgWhen you are arrested on charges of driving under the influence, you probably realize that the criminal penalties for a conviction can be severe. It may come a surprise to learn that you could face administrative penalties, including the suspension of your driving privileges, even if the criminal charges against you are dropped or you are found not guilty of DUI. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers understand that most DUI cases are multi-faceted, and we are equipped to help you at every stage of the proceedings.

Blood Alcohol Content Testing

Chemical testing for blood alcohol content, or BAC, is one of the most common methods used by law enforcement to collect evidence in a DUI-related case. If you have been pulled over by police and the officer asks you to submit to such testing—usually a breath test—but you have not been arrested, you have the right to refuse the test with no legal or administrative consequences. If you have been placed under arrest on suspicion of DUI, however, and the officer requests a chemical test, the entire situation changes.

Under the state’s implied consent laws, by operating a motor vehicle on Illinois roads, you agree to submit to requested BAC testing if you are arrested for DUI. If you are arrested and you refuse such test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Your license will also be suspended if you submit to the test and fail it. A failed chemical test means a BAC level of 0.08 or more for most non-commercial adult drivers. The standard is lower for commercial driver’s license holders, and any trace of alcohol constitutes a failed test for drivers under the age of 21. 

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Chicago drunk driving lawyerIf someone asked you right now, could you stand on just one foot for 30 seconds while holding your other foot just off the floor? What about walking heel-to-toe along a straight line, then turning and coming back on the same line? What if the line was imaginary, and you could not see it? Did you know that if you had trouble with either of these exercises, federal agencies indicate that there is about an 80 percent chance that you are currently intoxicated?

Clearly, this was meant to be an exaggeration, but the reality is that the tests mentioned in the previous paragraph are actually part of the battery of tests that the police use every day to test drivers who are suspected of being impaired by alcohol or drugs. The results are commonly used as evidence for the prosecution in DUI cases, even though the tests are not quite as accurate as the police and prosecutors want you to believe they are.

What You Should Know About FSTs

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes three tests as being effective in establishing a driver’s impairment level. Together, these three tests are known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, or HGN, is used in addition to the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand tests. The HGN test requires the driver to follow a pen or a finger using only his or her eyes. (The officer is watching for involuntary eye movements, particularly at the periphery, that are used as indicators of impairment.) The tests are usually administered together, and courts across the country generally accept the results as evidence of the driver’s intoxication. Such evidence, however, can and sometimes should be challenged.  

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IL DUI lawyerBreath interlock ignition devices connect to a car, truck, van, or other vehicle and control the vehicle’s ignition switch. In order for the ignition to engage and the vehicle to start normally, the driver must submit a breath sample into the mouthpiece of the device by blowing into it. The device analyzes the driver’s breath for alcohol. If the device registers any more than a negligible amount of alcohol on the driver’s breath, the car will not start. If the breath sample contains no alcohol, the car starts normally. Read on to learn about how Breath Alcohol Interlock Ignition Devices (BAIIDs) are used in Illinois and whether you will be requested to get a BAIID installed on your car after an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

When Is a BAIID Required in Illinois?

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in Illinois, and you fail a breath test such as a Breathalyzer, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for six months. If you refuse to take the Breathalyzer, your license is suspended for a year. Once your license is suspended, it becomes unlawful for you to drive any vehicle for any reason. At this point, you have two options: You can refrain from driving until the suspension period is over or you can ask for driving relief through a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP).

Adult drivers who have not previously received a statutory summary suspension or been convicted of DUI may be able to regain driving privileges through an MDDP. To get an MDDP and regain your ability to drive, you must have a BAIID installed on your car. You will have to submit an alcohol-free breath sample anytime you want to start your car. You will have to submit additional breath samples while you are driving intermittently. The MDDP only allows you to drive in the vehicle containing the BAIID. You are prohibited from driving a vehicle without a BAIID.

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