Articles Posted in Chemical Testing

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The penalties for DUI crimes vary throughout the country, with many states requiring people found guilty of DUI crimes to install ignition interlock devices in their cars. Such penalties are usually reserved for people convicted of two or more DUI offenses or more serious crimes. In South Carolina, though, the legislature recently passed a law requiring ignition interlock devices for anyone found guilty of a DUI offense. While the law has no impact in other states, it could be a sign of changes to come throughout the country, including in Illinois. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated in Illinois, it is in your best interest to talk to an Illinois DUI defense attorney about your rights.

South Carolina’s Ignition Interlock Law

It is reported that South Carolina is set to enforce a tougher DUI law, marking the first major update in nearly ten years. Starting May 19th, anyone convicted of DUI will be required to use an ignition interlock device, which prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects any measurable amount of alcohol on the driver’s breath. Previously, the use of ignition interlock devices in South Carolina was limited to individuals with multiple DUI convictions or those with a first conviction and a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) nearly twice the legal limit.

Reportedly, the new law expands this requirement to all first-time DUI offenders, aiming to prevent impaired driving and enhance road safety. Supporters believe this law will reduce drunk driving incidents and save lives. The law, which is an extension of Emma’s Law, named in memory of a young girl killed by a drunk driver in 2012, is expected to double the number of these devices installed in vehicles across the state. Continue reading →

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The certification and accuracy of the machine used to administer your breath test play a crucial role in the state’s case against you. If it is discovered that the machine used for testing was not properly calibrated or tested, there are arguments to be made that the results of the test should be excluded since their accuracy cannot be verified. When it is revealed that the state is unable to prove the accuracy of a machine used for chemical testing in DUI cases, the implications can be significant and extend beyond individual cases, as illustrated by a recent ruling in Massachusetts, in which the Supreme Court of Massachusetts determined that results from machines that were not properly calibrated over several years were inadmissible. It is estimated that this decision will impact over 27,000 convictions, making it one of the most significant rulings in favor of DUI defendants in recent memory. If you are facing a DUI charge, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a skilled Illinois DUI attorney who can thoroughly analyze the accuracy of any evidence that may be used against you.

The Massachusetts Ruling

It is reported that the highest court in Massachusetts has made a ruling that allows 27,000 individuals who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of drunk driving charges to have another chance. This decision was reached after an investigation in 2019 revealed that breathalyzer testing machines were not properly calibrated, resulting in inaccurate test results. The court found serious misconduct on the part of the government and decided that all tests conducted by the faulty machine between June 2011, and April 2019, should be excluded from criminal prosecutions. Allegedly, as a result of this ruling, individuals who were convicted or pleaded guilty based on breathalyzer evidence can now request to have their pleas withdrawn or ask for a new trial. This situation is drawing parallels to the state lab scandal, where numerous drug cases were dismissed due to evidence tampering by chemists.

Illinois Breathalyzer Standards

Similar to Massachusetts, Illinois has implemented regulations that require the state to follow testing guidelines for any device used to measure blood alcohol levels, ensuring the accuracy of breath test results. If it is proven that the results from a blood or breath test are unreliable, they cannot be used as evidence. Since the state often relies on test results to establish the guilt of a DUI suspect beyond a reasonable doubt, the absence of such test evidence can create challenges for the prosecution. Continue reading →

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In the vast majority of states, people can be charged with DUI crimes if they operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08. Occasionally, some jurisdictions have contemplated reducing the legal limit in hopes of reducing DUI crimes. Currently, there is a movement in Washington state to lower the legal limit to 0.05 in the wake of an increase in fatal DUI accidents. If you are accused of driving with a blood alcohol level that is over the legal limit in Illinois, it is advisable to meet with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to discuss the charges against you.

Washington’s Proposed Law

Allegedly, lawmakers in Washington state introduced a bill during the 2023 legislative session that would lower the blood alcohol limit for per se DUI offenses from 0.08 to 0.05. Currently, Utah is the only other state with a legal limit of 0.05; in Washington and every other State in the country, the legal limit is 0.08.

It is reported that one of the state senators sponsoring the bill explained that the impetus behind the movement is a marked increase in fatal DUI crashes throughout the State. In assessing data pertaining to DUI crashes, Washington legislators looked at the benefits Utah experienced after reducing the legal limit for DUI crimes and inferred that similar measures would bring about the same outcomes in Washington. Specifically, Utah experienced a 20% reduction in DUI fatalities since reducing the blood alcohol limit for DUI crimes to 0.05. Continue reading →

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People stopped for suspicion of DUI may attempt to avoid criminal charges or convictions by refusing to submit to blood tests. In many states, including Illinois, however, people can be convicted of DUI crimes despite the lack of evidence regarding their blood alcohol levels, and they may face civil penalties for refusing to submit to chemical testing as well. This was demonstrated recently when a Tennessee man was found guilty of his second DUI crime despite his refusal to submit to a blood test. If you were arrested and charged with a DUI offense, it is smart to confer with an Illinois DUI defense attorney regarding your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

It is alleged that the defendant was convicted of a second DUI offense and other charges, despite his refusal to submit to a blood test. Apparently, when a police officer responded to a report of a crash, he found the defendant, who had sideswiped another car. The defendant smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. He submitted to and failed the field sobriety tests but refused to submit to a blood draw. He was nonetheless charged with and convicted of a DUI offense, which was his second DUI conviction. The district attorney issued a statement following the defendant’s conviction, cautioning people that they cannot avoid convictions by refusing to submit to chemical tests.

Evidence Needed to Obtain a DUI Conviction in Illinois

Under Illinois law, all motorists are presumed to consent to submit to breath tests to determine their blood alcohol level. Drivers cannot be compelled to submit to blood tests, however, absent a warrant. If they are forced to provide a blood sample absent a warrant, it is likely that the results of the test will be inadmissible. Continue reading →

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In many states, people convicted of certain DUI offenses may be ordered to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. Recently, however, groups across the United States have pushed for such devices to be installed in all vehicles, regardless of the criminal history or lack thereof of the driver.  For example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently called for alcohol detection systems to be installed in all new cars following a deadly collision in California. While people generally agree that the prevention of DUI crimes is important, the imposition of mandatory ignition interlock devices raises several concerns. If you are charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is smart to speak to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer about your rights as soon as possible.

The California Crash

It is alleged that a collision that occurred on New Year’s Day in Avenal, California last year compelled the NTSB to call for systems that detect alcohol impairment to be installed in all new cars. Its recommendation arose after it was revealed that the driver that caused the Avenal collision, which killed nine people, was intoxicated and driving at a speed of almost 100 miles per hour. The accident occurred when the intoxicated motorist drove head-first into a pickup truck in which seven children were riding as passengers. It was later revealed that the driver veered off the side of a rural road and then overcorrected, causing him to crash into the truck.

It is reported that after the accident, the NTSB issued a statement asserting that alcohol detection technology could have prevented the crash, as well as the thousands of DUI-related crashes that occur throughout the country each year. Thus, the Chair of the NTSB believes the technology should be implemented as soon as possible to save lives.   Continue reading →

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Until recently, Illinois Rules of Evidence 803(6) prohibited the state from introducing medical records in criminal cases. The Illinois Supreme Court took the extraordinary measure of amending Rule 803(6) in a recent DWI case, however, effectively changing the landscape for the prosecution of DWI crimes for years to come. If you are faced with DWI charges, it is in your best interest to meet with an Illinois DWI defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision and then taken to the hospital, where his blood was drawn. The police believed he caused the crash by driving while intoxicated, and he was subsequently charged with aggravated DWI.  During his trial, the state introduced the results of a chemical blood test that was taken at the hospital into evidence.

Allegedly, the test results, which revealed his BAC to be .247, were admitted under 625 ILCS 5/11-501.4, which permits the state to admit chemical blood tests conducted in the course of emergency medical care as a business record exception to the rule against hearsay. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing that Rule 803(6) prohibited the introduction of medical records in criminal matters. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, and the defendant appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Continue reading →

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It is well-established that the police must either obtain a warrant or consent to conduct a blood test on a person suspected of DUI. Thus, the results of a warrantless blood test that was administered without a defendant’s knowing consent may be suppressed. In some instances, though, the prosecution will attempt to obtain the results of a medical blood draw via a subpoena to use as evidence against a DUI defendant. Whether they should be permitted to do so was the question recently presented to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. While the ruling will have no bearing on Illinois law, it may illustrate how courts throughout the country will resolve the issue in the coming years. If you are charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is advisable to speak to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer regarding your potential defenses.

The Wisconsin Case

It is alleged that the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently evaluated the question of whether prosecutors can use subpoenas to obtain the results of blood tests they believe will establish guilt in a DUI case if a warrantless blood draw taken the same night was barred from admission into evidence. In the subject case, the defendant crashed into a building and tree. An officer found him in a yard near the accident and noted that he smelled of alcohol. He was taken to the hospital, where his blood was drawn for diagnostic purposes.

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested for DUI, and the officer took a sample of his blood without a warrant, arguing exigent circumstances required such testing. The results of the police’s blood test were suppressed via a motion. Prosecutors later issued a subpoena seeking the defendant’s medical records from the hospital. At issue is whether the medical records should be considered fruit from a poisonous tree, or as the prosecution asserted, they come from a different plant than the results of the police test. Continue reading →

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In recent years, legislators, MADD, and other interested parties have pushed for legislation mandating that all new vehicles come equipped with alcohol detection systems that prevent people from driving while intoxicated. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently passed by the United States House of Representatives included an Advanced Impaired Driving Technology provision that MADD hailed as the single most important piece of legislation passed in the forty-one years the organization has been in existence. While no one denies the dangers of driving while intoxicated, compulsory alcohol sensors arguably violate people’s rights and could potentially create a host of other issues. If you are charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is in your best interest to speak to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Advanced Impaired Driving Technology

It is reported that the Advanced Impaired Driving Technology portion of the bill sets forth a standard that MADD anticipates will prevent close to 10,000 drunk driving deaths each year. Further, MADD’s President asserted that the bill will essentially eliminate the leading cause of death on roads throughout the country.  She argued that technology is necessary to stop the dangerous driving tactics of people who fail to make the right choice.

Allegedly, the bill orders the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin a rulemaking process and within three years, establish the standard for impaired driving safety equipment on all new vehicles. It is expected that NHTSA will assess technology that may include, among other things, alcohol detection systems that employ sensors to assess whether a driver is intoxicated and if so, prevent their vehicle from moving. Once the safety standard is established, car manufacturers will have two to three years to implement it. Continue reading →

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Relatively recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The landscape of DUI law across the country changed in response to the Court’s ruling and continues to evolve, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by the Kentucky Supreme Court, in which it held that the refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test could not be used against a DUI defendant. While the ruling does not impact the law in Illinois, it provides insight into how DUI laws throughout the country may progress in the future. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to meet with a trusted Illinois DUI defense lawyer to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Kentucky Ruling

Reportedly, the Kentucky Supreme Court recently issued a ruling clarifying the status of DUI law throughout the state. Specifically, it upheld a state appellate court decision vacating a man’s DUI conviction, where the state relied on his refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as evidence of his guilt. The Kentucky Supreme Court noted that courts throughout the state rejected the United States Supreme Court ruling dictating that the police must obtain warrants for blood tests, stating that the ruling did not apply in their courts.

The Kentucky Supreme Court made it abundantly clear, however, that the state courts must abide by the Supreme Court ruling and could not use a DUI defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test as evidence of guilt. The court pointed out that currently, the law in Kentucky requires proof of injury or death to obtain a warrant for suspected DUI. Thus, it is anticipated that law enforcement agencies will pressure the legislature to modify the laws in the near future. Continue reading →

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Many states have implied consent laws that provide that licensed drivers must agree to submit to breath tests. As such, if people suspected of DUI refuse to provide breath samples, they often face additional charges and civil penalties. While typically, the failure to conduct a breath test is due to the lack of a driver’s consent, in Colorado, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the unusual situation of police officers refusing to conduct breath tests, which has resulted in the dismissal of many DUI charges. If you are charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, it is wise to speak to a skillful Illinois DUI lawyer about your rights.

COVID-19 Related DUI Complications in Colorado

Allegedly, multiple people charged with DUI crimes in Colorado have had their cases dismissed due to the fact that the police investigating the offenses refused to provide suspects with breath tests. The basis for the refusal was the belief that conducting the tests posed health risks due to the potential of the spread of the coronavirus. While the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has advised that officers can safely conduct such tests during the pandemic, many police agencies in the state are ignoring the Department’s advice and declining to conduct such tests.

It is reported that defense attorneys in Colorado have used the police’s refusal to provide breath tests against the state, arguing that it violates defendants’ rights and should result in the dismissal of charges. Specifically, under Colorado law, drivers suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated must be provided the choice of a breath or blood test unless a test is not available because of extraordinary circumstances. Subsequently, there are multiple instances where the court ultimately dismissed DUI charges against drivers who requested breath tests but were denied. Continue reading →

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