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Blood tests and Illinois DUI accidents

Illinois DUI law provides law enforcement with several different means of demanding blood tests to determine the presence of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medication, in drivers. These provisions rely upon the concept of ‘implied consent”. In other words, when you choose to operate a motor vehicle upon the public roadways of Illinois, you have indirectly given your consent to be subjected to these tests if certain conditions exist. 625 ILCS 5/11-500 et. seq.

In any DUI arrest situation, the police have the choice to ask you to submit to a blood test. Because of the time and expense involved, if the arresting authorities believe that the cause of your alleged intoxication is alcohol and if there was no accident requiring immediate medical treatment, most likely they will rely upon a breath, rather than blood, test. The results of breath tests are ordinarily immediately available.

On the other hand, not all DUI charges require proof of actual impairment from alcohol, other drugs or prescription medication, or proof that your blood alcohol level (BAL) exceeds .08. These so-called “per se” violations require the police to show that ANY amount of a banned substance is still in your system, even if the amount detected was not enough to impair your driving ability.

Breath tests will not detect drugs. Urine tests will not detect the very small quantities that police may suspect. Proof normally requires a blood test. Absent an accident, you are entitled to refuse to submit to such tests.

However, some police agencies have implemented “no refusal weekends” In these situations, the police can force you to submit to a breath or blood test by obtaining a warrant from a stand-by judge.

In addition, anyone who is dead, unconscious or otherwise in a condition that makes that person incapable of refusal is deemed to have given implied consent to testing. 625 ILCS 11-501.1 As a practical matter, if a person cannot refuse, that person cannot blow in a breath machine and blood will almost certainly be drawn.

Moreover, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe the person in question was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, and if such driving caused death or injury to another person, the police can demand that the driver provide a blood draw. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2
Finally, if you are involved in an accident, the police believe you are under the influence, you are the only one injured and you require emergency medical treatment, blood tests will almost certainly come into play. Here, there is a distinction between two types of draw, the “medical draw” and the police draw.

If you are taken the emergency room after a crash, hospital personnel will usually draw blood and the blood panel will include information about alcohol or other drugs. The results of the blood draw are admissible in a DUI prosecution. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.4.

However, the police must, if you are conscious, ask whether you wish to submit to a separate blood test in order to determine if a statutory summary suspension will be imposed on your driver’s license either for refusing to consent to a draw or submitting results that show your BAL was .08 or greater and/or the presence of other drugs.

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