In the ever-changing landscape of Illinois DUI law, it can be unclear what rights and protections are afforded an individual detained on suspicion of DUI. While individuals who refuse to submit to roadside sobriety testing or a Breathalyzer test face an automatic suspension of their drivers’ license, they could avoid being convicted of a DUI due to the lack of evidence of their blood alcohol level.
Recently an Illinois man who had previously been convicted of DUI on five occasions managed to evade a sixth DUI conviction where a jury found the prosecution lacked any concrete evidence he was driving while impaired. T.W., of Algonquin, Illinois, was traveling on Route 31 in Crystal Lake when he was pulled over by the police for speeding. When he approached the car, the police officer that stopped T.W. noticed he had glassy eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol. The officer also observed an open can of beer in the car. T.W., who was also previously convicted four times for driving with a suspended or revoked license, admitted to the officer he was driving with a suspended license, but tried to convince the officer to let him go since he was close to his house.
T.W. refused to submit to a roadside sobriety test or undergo a Breathalyzer test. He was arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence, which is a felony. At trial, the arresting officer testified that during the traffic stop T.W. had bloodshot eyes and “mush mouth.” He further testified that T.W. became belligerent while being transported to the police station, yelling at the officer to go find real criminals. T.W. also accused the officer of drinking and driving, but being able to get away with it due to his badge.
In presenting his defense, T.W.’s attorney argued that there was no evidence that T.W. was driving in an impaired manner or showed any other signs of impairment. Regarding the odor of alcohol, T.W.’s attorney argued that this only constituted evidence that T.W. had consumed alcohol, not that he was impaired. Despite the testimony of the arresting officer, the jury found the prosecution lacked the evidence necessary to convict T.W. of aggravated DUI, due to the lack of roadside sobriety or Breathalyzer testing. As such, T.W. was only convicted of driving with a suspended license.
Due to situations like T.W.’s police officers in some Illinois counties have recently been obtaining e-warrants for blood draws when faced with individuals who refuse to undergo a Breathalyzer test. Recent technology allows police officers to generate warrants that can be immediately submitted to a judge for review. If the judge grants the warrant, a person suspected of DUI will then be taken to an emergency room for a blood draw. As the practice of obtaining e-warrants is fairly new, it is uncertain whether it can be widely implemented from a practical standpoint, as it presents issues with burdening emergency rooms and forcing medical providers to become wardens of the state. If the practice becomes widespread, however, it will undoubtedly impact situations where an individual charged with a DUI attempts to avoid chemical testing.
If you are facing DUI charges in Illinois and refused to undergo roadside testing or a Breathalyzer test you should contact a skilled Illinois DUI attorney as soon as possible to ensure your case is properly defended. Harvatin Law Offices, PC is experienced in defending people facing DUI charges throughout Illinois. Contact our office at 217.525.0520, to schedule a consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Georgia Supreme Court Rules Officer Cannot Compel Breath Tests on DUI Suspects Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2018.
Illinois Appeals Court Upholds Ruling for DUI Defendant Based on Officer’s Unconvincing Testimony Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, June 5, 2017
Illinois Appeals Court Holds Bloodshot Eyes Insufficient to Establish Probable Cause for DUI Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2016