Illinois DUI law provides that it is illegal to operate a motorized vehicle on the public roadways if the driver is in actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 Evidence of driving under the influence consists of general observations, such as poor driving, the interaction with the officer while the driver is still seated (eyes that are bloodshot, an odor of alcohol from the breath, slurred speech, difficulty locating insurance card, drivers’ license and registration) and the vehicle exit process, including any stumbling, staggering or balance difficulty.
The police also employ specific “divided activity” tests known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). This sequence of activities, which includes the HGN, the walk and turn and the one legged stand, requires the subject to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. For instance, during the one legged stand, the test taker must hold his leg off the ground six inches, while also looking at the elevated foot and counting from 1 to 30.
The driver will then be asked to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). The PBT is a device that is not certified for accuracy the Illinois State Police or subject to any legally recognized regulations. After a user blows into a tube, the PBT device generates a number that estimates the driver’s blood alcohol level (BAL).
The results of the PBT are not admissible in the DUI prosecution itself as evidence of the driver’s BAL. However the arresting officer is authorized to use a BAL of .08 or greater on the PBT in reaching an arrest determination. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.5
After gathering all this information, the officer arrests you for DUI, following which you will be asked to submit to another type of test, either blood or breath, to determine your BAL. These results are gathered using a more precise method and unlike the PBT results, they can be used in the DUI case to prove your BAL. In addition, if you elect not to submit to these tests, your “refusal” can be disclosed to the jury as evidence of a “guilty mind”. People v. Rose, 268 Ill. App. 3d 174, 178, 643 N.E.2d 865, 868 (1994)
Not only can a positive test (BAL of .08 or more) or a refusal be used in the DUI case itself, but they are also determinative in establishing a Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS). Essentially, a positive reading or a refusal can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license for a given period of time, even if the state is unable to prove the DUI charge.
These suspensions vary in length, depending upon whether you provided a BAL or refused and upon whether you have been arrested for DUI in the prior five years. For someone with no priors for five years, a positive tests results in a suspension for six months and a refusal yields a twelve month suspension. If there was a prior offense in five years, a positive test means a one year suspension; a refusal, three years. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1
In each of these situations, before the state can demand tests and suspend your driver’s license, they must show there is some reason to suspect you are under the influence of alcohol. But in the case of a serious accident or death, that fact, along with the issuance of a routine traffic violation, will lead to a driver’s license suspension if there is a refusal or a positive test. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.6 The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld this exception to the probable cause requirement. Fink v. Ryan, 174 Ill.2d 302, 315, 220 Ill.Dec. 369, 673 N.E.2d 281 (1996)
Recent legislation has extended this barely constitutional process to boating accidents. Understand that this effects not only your boat license but also your driver’s license.
Summary of requirements for admission of DUI breath tests in Illinois Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, April 12, 2013
Loss of driver’s license following a crash in which there is no DUI conviction Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, May 3, 2013