Many states have implied consent laws. In other words, when a person obtains a driver’s license, the law states that they impliedly consent to submit to a breath test if they are under investigation for DUI. In many states, if a person suspected of DUI refuses to provide a breath sample, they can lose their driving privileges. Typically, the police must warn a driver of the consequences of the failure to abide by the implied consent law, but if the suspect does not understand the officer due to a language barrier, the warning may be ineffective. This was demonstrated recently in a Pennsylvania DUI case. The court ultimately ruled that the defendant could not face penalties for refusing to submit to a breath test because he did not understand English. If you are charged with the refusal to provide a breath sample or a DUI crime in Illinois, it is smart to speak to an Illinois DUI defense regarding your options for seeking a favorable outcome.
The Pennsylvania Case
It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant driving erratically and therefore initiated a traffic stop. The officer attempted to question the defendant, who does not speak English. He noticed the defendant smelled of alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot and glazed. He tried to ask the defendant if he drank alcohol that evening and, if so, how much, using hand signals. The defendant responded with hand signals, stating he had three drinks.
Allegedly, the officer requested that the defendant submit to a breath test. The defendant said no, and the officer read him the O’Connell warning, which informs DUI suspects of the consequences of failing to submit to a breath test, as required by Pennsylvania law. The defendant was ultimately found guilty of refusing to submit to a breath test and lost his driving privileges. He appealed on the grounds that his refusal was not informed and knowing as he did not speak English. The appellate court ultimately ruled in his favor and stated that the onus was on the police to make sure DUI suspects understood the consequences of failing to abide by the implied consent law.
Illinois’ Implied Consent Law
Illinois, like Pennsylvania, has an implied consent law. Unlike Pennsylvania, though, the Illinois courts have ruled that the police must merely provide summary suspension warnings to DUI suspects; they do not have to ensure they understand them. It is unclear, however, whether the recent Pennsylvania ruling will inspire the Illinois courts or courts sitting in other jurisdictions to revisit their standards.
Meet with a Trusted Illinois DUI Defense Attorney
Some people mistakenly believe they can avoid any penalties if they merely refuse to submit to a breath test, but a refusal can result in the loss of their driving privileges. If you are accused of a DUI or refusal offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a meeting.