Illinois law makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol. This offense, commonly referred to as DUI, DWI or drunk driving, is described in 625 ILCS 5/11-501, which in a general makes it a crime to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater.
A DUI conviction requires the state to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you drove under the influence. A conviction results in a revocation of your driver’s license. Before you may legally drive again following a conviction, you must have an administrative driver’s license hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State.
An issue you face merely from the fact of being arrested for DUI, even absent a conviction, is a driver’s license suspension, based either upon refusing to submit to a test to measure your BAC, or taking a test and registering at least .08. However, the police must have a specific basis upon which to stop you in the first place. They must be able to show there is a legally recognized basis for doing so, except for pre-determined DUI roadblocks.
In People. v. Hansen, 2012 Il. App (4th) 110603, the driver contested the driver’s license suspension, claiming that the police had no valid reason to stop him. His argument was based upon the fact that the police pulled him over due to receiving an anonymous tip. The Fourth District Appellate Court, which covers Sangamon, Champaign, McClean, Adams and other counties in Central Illinois, rejected this contention.
When the police stop a driver for any reason, they will look for possible signs of intoxication. These include traffic offenses, particularly improper lane usage (weaving), a wide turn, driving more than 10 MPH below the posted limit); an odor of alcohol, bloodshot, glassy eyes, slurred speech, difficult with balance and coordination and belligerence.
If the police suspect you are under the influence based upon one or more of the above factors, and possibly others, they will typically ask you to perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFST), those being the horizontal gaze nystagmus (the HGN, in which the police wave a pencil across your face), the one-legged stand and the walk-and-turn (walking a straight line). Each test is “scored” for “clues”, with points being assessed against you based upon your performance in different phases of the tests.
The state must show that the police officer is specially trained in administration of the HGN. People v. McKown, 236 Ill. 2d 278, 924 N.E.2d 941, 338 Ill. Dec. 415, 2010 WL 572082 (2010) The HGN includes 6 possible clues for possible intoxication. A score of 4 or more is a failure.
The one-legged stand has 4 possible clues. A score of 2 or more is a failure.
The walk-and-turn has 8 possible clues. A score of 2 or more is a failure.
You will next be asked to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). In this test, you blow into a small device that supposedly estimates your BAC. There is no penalty for refusing to take the PBT, and neither your refusal to blow, nor the results of a PBT, are admissible in the DUI prosecution (625 ILCS 5/11-501.5), although they may be used by the police to establish probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. People. v. Davis, 296 Ill. App. 3d 923, 231 Ill. Dec. 244 (3d Dist. 1998).
If the officer, after assessing your performance on these tests and based upon his other observations, believes you are under the influence, you will be placed under arrest and driven to a stationhouse or jail and asked to take a breath test using a different type of machine, or asked to give blood at a medical facility. Unlike the PBT, the results of this test, or your refusal to take the test, are admissible in the DUI case. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2.
The consequences of a refusal, or of a BAC reading of at least .08, vary depending upon when and whether you have had prior DUI offenses and upon whether or not you took or refused. Your driver’s license will be suspended anywhere from 6 months (a first offender who tests) to 36 months (a non first offender who refuses).