A DUI conviction can affect numerous aspects of a person’s life. At times, challenging a DUI arrest can result in reduced or dropped charges for the suspect, allowing them to retain their driving privileges.
The DUI arrest typically begins with the traffic stop. If a police officer suspects that a driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, then he or she will pull the driver over. In order for the police to pull a driver over on suspicion of DUI, they must first have “probable cause" to do so. Probable cause would include: weaving in and out of traffic, erratic driving, driving too fast or too slow for the conditions on the road, or driving without the vehicle’s tail lights on in the dark.
Once the law enforcement officer has pulled the driver over, they will typically ask them if they have had anything to drink. As the driver provides the officer with answers, he will be watching for signs of alcohol impairment and an outright admission that the person had consumed alcohol. They will be watching for glassy eyes, slurred speech, alcohol on the breath and obvious signs of intoxication such as loud and boisterous behavior.
If the police officer had reason to believe the driver had been drinking, or if they openly admitted to drinking, then they will ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are used by law enforcement across the nation to gain more probable cause to make a DUI arrest. They are not scientific tests; rather, they are more subjective tests that rely more upon the police officer’s opinion than facts. A driver can politely refuse these tests without suffering any negative penalties as a result. These tests are not used to help the driver in any way; instead they are used as evidence against the driver, especially if the information was documented on a dash camera and presented in court.
Following the field sobriety tests, the police officer will ask the driver to submit to a chemical test in the form of a breath, blood or urine test. In most cases a breath test is used; however, a driver may have to submit to a blood test when a breath test isn’t available, for certain medical conditions or when the driver is unconscious (as from an auto accident). Unlike the field sobriety tests, refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in an automatic license suspension. Under the Implied Consent Law, a driver basically agrees to submit to a chemical test when a law enforcement officer asks them to, as this is a condition for obtaining a driver’s license.
Nearly everybody knows somebody who has been arrested for DUI at some point in time. Many people do have a couple of drinks and drive afterwards, but the vast majority of them don’t get caught. If you were arrested for DUI in Illinois, you could be facing up to $2,500 in fines, up to 364 days in jail, a minimum of 1 year driver’s license revocation, mandatory attendance at a DUI school, community service, and probation. What’s more, your vehicle could be impounded and you may have to install an alcohol Ignition Interlock Device or wear an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet.
Under aggravating circumstances DUI penalties are increased; for example, if there was a minor in the vehicle under 16, if there was bodily injury or death and if this was a second or subsequent DUI. DUI convictions are not to be taken lightly; they can and will affect many aspects of a person’s life. DUI convictions can cause someone to lose their job, it can put a strain on their personal relationships, and the criminal conviction can damage their future and their career. If you have been arrested for DUI, then please contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. DUI cases are time sensitive, and you have limited time to fight for your driving privileges. A criminal defense attorney will be able to challenge various aspects of your traffic stop, your arrest, and any evidence collected at the scene or back at the station. DUI cases can be fought, and successfully won, so take action today before you lose your driving privileges!