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Loss of Illinois driver’s license in accident cases

New York state has implemented legislation that will require police to demand blood-alcohol tests in any case in which there is an accident that results in death or serious personal injury. At present New York law authorizes such testing only if police suspect the driver is guilty of DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

Illinois DUI law provides for blood tests in a number of circumstances in accident situations. If someone is involved in an accident and is taken to the hospital, standard hospital procedure is to draw blood to determine the proper course of medical treatment. The blood tests include an analysis for drugs and alcohol. This is known as a medical draw. (625 ILCS 5/11-501.4)

The results of the medical draw are admissible in the DUI prosecution as evidence that the defendant (driver) had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or greater, the legal limit in Illinois. (625 ILCS 5/11-501)  However, there is another consequence that flows from an Illinois DUI arrest.

Police will ask the defendant to submit to a breath or blood test, even if the defendant has already provide a medical draw. The results of this draw, or the defendant’s refusal to consent to the police officer’s request to provide a blood sample, will determine if the defendant will incur a driver’s license suspension and if so, for how long. This is known as the police draw. Police want this draw because unlike the medical draw, the blood will be tested at their lab, with their equipment, and the blood will be in their control and custody at all times.

Even if the defendant has given a medical draw, his or her refusal to give a police draw will be deemed a refusal.  (People v. Ehley, 381 Ill. App. 3d. 937, 887 N.E. 2d. 772 (2008)) A refusal with result in a longer Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) than if the Defendant had consented.

The driver may in another situation incur a Statutory Summary Revocation (SSR). An SSR is more serious than an SSS because the driver’s license will be revoked, requiring a hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State.

An SSR will be imposed if the driver is: 1) involved in a crash in which someone other than the driver is killed or injured;  2) charged with DUI;  and 3) asked to take a chemical test (breath or blood) and refuses to do so.  Even if the DUI is dismissed or the driver is found not guilty, the SSR stands. During the one-year revocation, no driving privileges will be allowed.

The Secretary of State is also authorized to enter a discretionary suspension or revocation of a driver’s license if by the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle, the driver caused or contributed to an accident resulting in injury to any person that requires immediate professional treatment. (625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(4))  Such a suspension or revocation may not be entered more than 6 months after the conviction for the traffic offense or no more than one year after the accident, whichever is later. Note that the suspension does not require any alcohol-related conduct.

A driver involved in an accident resulting in serious personal injury or death and who has been arrested for a non-equipment violation and who refuses to submit to a test, or who submits and registers .08 or higher, will receive a driver’s license suspension. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6(a). The suspension will be for 6 months to three years, depending upon the driver’s driving record.

The driver may only contest the suspension through the Illinois Secretary of State rather than the courts.  (625 ILCS 5/11-501.6) This is a powerful law because requesting the test does not require the police to have reason to believe the driver is intoxicated.

The Secretary of State may impose what is known as an administrative revocation. In specified circumstances, the Secretary of State, prior to any conviction, may revoke a driver’s license bases upon certain factors.

The Secretary of State may revoke the driver’s license, without a hearing or conviction, of a driver who is involved in an serious bodily injury crash and who is charged with DUI, leaving the scene of a crash, reckless homicide, drag racing, aggravated reckless driving or any felony in which a motor vehicle is involved.  92 Illinois Administrative Code §1040.35 “Great bodily harm” shall include but not be limited to any of the following:

A)        bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death;

B)        unconsciousness;

C)        extreme physical pain;

D)        protracted or permanent disfigurement;

E)        protracted or permanent loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty;

F)         bone fractures;

G)        distorted extremity or extremities;

H)        severely bleeding wound.