Being pulled over by a police officer for any reason can be an anxiety-inducing situation. The scenario can be even scarier if you are under suspicion of drunk driving, especially considering how strict the Illinois DUI laws can be. Police officers are trained to recognize the signs of impairment and will be looking for them in every traffic stop. If an officer suspects that you might be intoxicated or under the influence, he or she may ask you to submit to field sobriety testing and/or a preliminary breathalyzer test. While it is not a crime to refuse to submit, choosing not to cooperate can lead to additional consequences.
Understanding Implied Consent
You may know about or have heard of the term “implied consent.” This refers to the idea that every person who has a driver’s license in Illinois has implicitly agreed to submit to chemical testing of their breath, blood, or urine to determine the amount of a specific drug or alcohol in their system, and refusing to comply with this testing can result in automatic driver's license suspension. What some people may not know, however, is that the implied consent law only comes into play after you have been arrested for DUI. In other words, refusing to take a roadside breathalyzer test will not result in the automatic suspension of your license.
Consequences of Refusing a Chemical Test
If you refuse to submit to a preliminary breathalyzer test or field sobriety testing, this may give an officer reason to arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving. Following an arrest for DUI, you will likely be asked to submit to a chemical test, which is most typically a breath test, although sometimes your blood or urine can be tested instead. It is during this time that consequences can result if you refuse to submit to a chemical test.
According to Illinois’ statutory summary suspension law, a first-time chemical test refusal will result in a 12-month driver’s license suspension. You may be eligible to apply for a monitoring device driving permit (MDDP), which would utilize a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device to monitor your BAC anytime you drive for the duration of your license suspension. A second or subsequent refusal will result in a three-year license suspension.