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Chicago DUI defense lawyersYou can probably imagine what it feels like to be pulled over by the police on a night where you have had a few drinks, even if it has never happened to you before. The lights flash behind you and your heart sinks. By the time the officer is at your window, you are probably extremely nervous, but you want to make this go as smooth as possible so that you get home quickly. As expected, the officer asks if you have been drinking, and you honestly answer that you had a couple earlier. Then, the officer asks if you will take a breathalyzer test. Can you refuse?

Understanding the Law

According to Illinois law, drivers give their implied consent to submit to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing by operating a motor vehicle on the streets and roadways of the state. There is an important caveat, however. Implied consent only refers to testing that is conducted incident to an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). This means that you are under no obligation whatsoever to take a BAC test unless and until you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI. Regardless of what the officer tells you, if you have not been arrested, you cannot be forced to take a breathalyzer.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyThe moment a driver is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, he or she is often faced with a series of field and sobriety tests—including blood-alcohol content (BAC) tests—that ultimately help determine their fate in a court of law. Whatever the outcome, the driver found guilty of a DUI offense faces everything from the loss of driving privileges and serious prison time to hefty fines and community service. Depending on the severity of the conviction, the driver’s life can be affected for months, and even years following the DUI arrest.

The Science Behind the Breathalyzer

When so much rests on the results of sobriety tests, it is understandable that the reliability of such tests are questioned and challenged. So, just how reliable are breathalyzers? How do they work, and can they be trusted? In short, a breathalyzer is a modified infrared radiation spectrometer. That is a fancy term for a device that measures the absorption of organic compounds in the blood stream - in this case, alcohol. When you blow into a breathalyzer, the alcohol that is in your blood transfers through to your breath, and the device calibrates to read the concentration of alcohol in your system.

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Chicago DUI Defense attorneyIf you find yourself arrested for driving under the influence in the state of Illinois, refusing a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) test of any kind can mean severe consequences for you from that very moment. If you have not yet been arrested for DUI, however, refusing a BAC test may offer a few advantages as you move forward with the defense of your case.

You Have Decided to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test. Now What?

Refusing a test before you have been arrested and taken into custody prevents law enforcement from collecting any incriminating evidence against you in a court of law. At this stage, you still have the option to shape the course of your fate in terms of charges and the penalties that accompany them, but how you proceed with the refusal is important.

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Chicago DUI defense attorneyWhen you are pulled over for the suspicion of driving under the influence, you have the right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test if you wish to do so. There are, however, consequences to this option, just as there are consequences to submitting to the test if you have in fact been consuming alcohol. If you are conflicted as to whether to submit or not, it is helpful to familiarize yourself the penalties associated with both options before you make your decision.

Standard DUI Penalties in the State of Illinois

For starters, if you decide to submit to a breathalyzer test and are found to be over the legal limit, your driving privileges will be automatically suspended for six months for your first offense. The suspension doubles to one year for a second or subsequent test failure. The suspension applies regardless of whether prosecutors push for a conviction on DUI charges. If you are convicted of DUI, you are looking at a combination of the following:

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comply with police llinois, Chicago dui lawyerThe outcome of your DUI arrest actually begins before you pull over for the officer who has flagged you down. The moment you see an officer's lights flash behind you, the decisions you make from that point on will set the tone for your entire case. Even if you are guilty of driving under the influence, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to remain respectful and comply with the police, to the best of your ability. However, this does not mean you are required to incriminate yourself.

Here are some common requests you will face from an officer who pulls you over for the suspicion of DUI and how you should handle each one:

Proper pullover - Police want to see you pull your car over quickly, safely, and correctly. You should not delay pulling over to the side of the road; you should comply with the officer’s direction as quickly as possible, so long as you can safely park your vehicle. The sooner you stop and park your car, the better your chances of avoiding unnecessary tension and conflict once the officer approaches you. You want to cooperate from start to finish, and pulling over immediately, when the officer directs you to do so, is the first signal that demonstrates you are taking the matter seriously and that you intend to comply.

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refusing a BAC test in Illinois, Chicago DUI defense attorneyWhen it comes to the subject of DUI, the consequences of getting behind the wheel intoxicated are never easy to face, especially when they directly affect someone you know personally. The mere prospect of being pulled over under suspicion for driving while intoxicated is an uncomfortable scenario to ponder, but it is a very real reality for many people. And, it is a crime that has the power to alter the quality of your life severely.

The Moments After You are Pulled Over

So, what actually happens when you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI? Are the events that unfold as harsh or as scary as we hear they are? The moment an officer pulls you over, they require you to present your license, registration, and proof of insurance, and you are then asked to submit to a field sobriety test if the officer believes you have been drinking.

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refusing a breathalyzer test in Illinois, Chicago DUI defense lawyerOne of the biggest questions people have when the subject of DUI defense arises is how to handle a breathalyzer test. Should you automatically agree to submit to a BAC test? Or should you refrain from submitting all together? When combined, the rights dictated to you by the police in the heat of the moment along with the consequences presented to you for refusing to submit are intimidating, at the very least.

To Submit or Not to Submit?

The stressful ordeal of being pulled over under suspicion of drinking and driving can make the decision to take the test a tough call. The answer to whether or not you should agree to the test is just as difficult, but one thing is for certain: There are potential advantages to refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, and many criminal defense attorneys actually encourage you in this direction.

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