Britt Miller, age 27, was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Decatur Illinois. Miller had signed autographs and raffled sports memorabilia during a Super Bowl party at a restaurant located in his hometown of Decatur. At about 2:00 AM on the night after the Super Bowl, police stopped him, initially for driving the wrong way. Subsequent observations of the arresting officer led the police to investigate and later arrest Miller for DUI, illegal transportation (open container), no proof of insurance and failure to use a seat belt.
The DUI law is 625 ILCS 5/11-501. In an alcohol-related DUI, a driver may be charged with DUI based upon alcohol-impaired driving or with driving at a blood alcohol level (BAL) above the legal limit.
In all fifty states, the legal limit above which you are assumed to be under the influence of alcohol is .08%. This measures the percent of alcohol in your blood and is by law considered to be too drunk to be driving. At that level, it becomes the defendant’s burden to show he was not under the influence.
In addition, however, if the state is able to prove that someone was driving with a BAL of at least .08, that in and of itself is proof of DUI, regardless of any evidence the driver presents that he or she was not impaired. This is known as a “per se” law.
At first blush, this would suggest that the trouble free way to beat a DUI is not submit to the test. The wisdom of that advice is not the subject of this article but in order to make an informed decision, one must understand the consequences of not agreeing to a test.
In the DUI trial, the prosecution is allowed to argue to the jury that the driver’s election not to test is evidence of a “guilty mind”. People v. Rose, 268 Ill. App. 3d 174, 178, 643 N.E.2d 865, 868 (1994) The premise here is, what do you have to hide?
Moreover, whatever your DUI history is, refusing a breath test always results in more severe driver’s license consequences. If one has no DUI arrests in the five years before the current DUI arrest the driver is in “first offender” status. This definition applies even to someone who has had one or more than one previous DUI, so long as the most recent DUI occurred more than five years before the current one.
But the “first offender” definition only applies to determining the length of a driver’s license suspension. It has nothing to do with whether a driver is felony eligible due to prior DUI offenses or whether the driver is eligible for court supervision.
A first offender, as defined above, who registers at or above .08 BAL receives a driver’s license suspension for six months. A first offender who does not test receives a suspension for twelve months. In either case, after the suspension has been in effect for thirty days, the driver is eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) that allows for unlimited driving privileges upon installation of a monitored interlock.
On the other hand, a non first offender who registers at least .08 will be suspended for one year. A non first offender who does not test receives a three-year suspension.
A non first offender cannot receive an MDDP or even a restricted driving permit from the Secretary of State. That person simply cannot drive, which makes the consequences of a refusal for anon first offender severe.