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Refusing a BAC Test: Know the Risks

bac test refusal, statutory summary suspension, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyOver the last several weeks, police departments around the country set up thousands of sobriety checkpoints in an effort to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, the effort included more than 10,000 local and state police agencies, including many in northern Illinois. If you were stopped at one of these recent checkpoints, you may have been asked to submit to breathalyzer testing to check your blood alcohol content (BAC). No matter how much you have had to drink, your refusal to submit to BAC testing can have serious consequences.

Implied Consent in Illinois

By driving a motor vehicle on Illinois roadways, the state’s vehicle code presumes that you have granted implied consent to submit to requested chemical testing. Such testing may be done a preliminary basis to establish probable cause, or subsequent to an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, or DUI. While you cannot be criminally prosecuted specifically for refusing a BAC test, there are other applicable penalties that may be imposed.

Statutory Summary Suspension

Completely separate from the criminal prosecution of DUI, the Office of the Secretary of State is responsible for the administration of driving privileges in the state. The Secretary’s Office, by law, has been granted the authority to issue license suspensions and revocations independent of criminal findings. For BAC testing in particular, a suspension is automatically imposed on any driver who fails such a test. “Failing” means the test results show the driver’s BAC to be in excess of the applicable legal limit—.08 percent in most cases, and .00 for those under 21.  The suspension for a first-time failure is six months, with driving relief usually available after one month. A subsequent failure within five years results in a one-year suspension with no relief available.

A suspension might seem logical for failing a test, but what about refusing to take one? In such a case, the administrative penalties are even more severe. A first refusal will lead to 12-month suspension of driving privileges, with relief often available after one month. If you refuse testing on a second occasion, however, you will lose your driving privileges for three years, with no available relief. All of these administrative suspensions are in addition to any DUI-related penalties imposed by the court either upon conviction or as a condition of court supervision.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have recently been stopped on suspicion of DUI and subsequently refused a BAC test, contact an experienced DuPage County criminal defense attorney today. At our law firm, we understand the law and are equipped to help you navigate a potentially dangerous situation. Call 630-260-9647 for a confidential consultation. We will review your case and assist you in taking the steps necessary to protect your rights and your future.

 

Sources:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-drive-sober-enforcement-crackdown-08212015

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

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