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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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IL defense lawyerAccording to national statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July 4 is one of the most dangerous days of the year for fatal car accidents involving alcohol. Drinking is a part of many Fourth of July celebrations, and understandably, law enforcement officers in Illinois and throughout the U.S. are always on high alert for drivers who show signs of impairment. A DUI arrest could easily ruin your holiday weekend, especially if you are in an accident resulting in injury or death. You should be careful to avoid putting yourself in a situation in which you could face serious criminal charges.

Refrain From Drunk Driving

Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are all holidays where family and friends enjoy getting together and celebrating. The best way to avoid DUI charges is to avoid driving altogether if your abilities may be impaired by alcohol. Here are some suggestions that can help keep you and others safe on holidays:

  • Celebrate at home. Hosting a celebration at your own home, even just for your own family or close friends, means that you will not have to figure out how to get home afterward. If guests are driving to your gathering and planning on drinking, you might even consider asking them for their car keys to prevent them from driving home drunk.
  • Understand the effects of buzzed driving. One of the most costly mistakes for drivers is underestimating the effects that even a small amount of alcohol can have on their driving abilities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that even with a BAC of 0.02, well below the legal limit, a driver’s attention, judgment, and visual functions may be impaired. If you plan to drink at all, staying off the road is your safest bet.
  • Arrange for a designated driver. As you make your plans for the holiday, try to identify someone in your party who will stay sober. A designated driver who abstains from drinking is a safer option than a driver who tries to monitor their alcohol consumption and driving abilities.
  • Use a rideshare service. If you cannot find a designated driver, or if the night does not turn out as expected, you can always hire a rideshare driver to help you get home safely. This may come with a cost, but it is far less expensive than the consequences of a DUI conviction.

Contact a Chicago, IL DUI Defense Attorney

If you are pulled over or arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to understand your rights, including your right to consult with a Cook County criminal defense lawyer. At Luisi Legal Group, we represent clients who are facing DUI charges and help them present the best possible defense. If you need experienced legal representation, contact us at 773-276-5541 and schedule a free consultation.

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IL DUI lawyerDriving after consumption of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous action. It can put the driver and those around him or her at risk of injuries or even death. This is why Illinois has strict penalties for those who choose to drive intoxicated.

Illinois State Police officers have the right to pull over any vehicle they suspect is being driven by a drunk driver. Signs that they look for are the car swerving across the road, braking and/or speeding suddenly for no reason, and misuse of car indicator lights.

The DUI Traffic Stop Process

Like any other traffic stop, the police officer will ask for the driver’s license and proof of insurance. They can also ask the driver if they are aware of what they have been stopped for. All the while, the officer is observing the condition of the driver. They are looking for signs that the driver is intoxicated:

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