How to Successfully Contest your Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension
Act Quickly. When arrested for DUI a statutory summary suspension (SSS) will normally trigger. The police officer who writes the DUI citation will usually fill out two additional forms. The first is called the Warning to Motorist. The second is the Notice of Suspension. What the Warning tells the arrestee is what penalties that person may face regarding the civil SSS of their driving privileges. The Notice advises the arrestee that the suspension will occur in 46 days. The law affords the arrestee 90 days to file what is termed the Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension. If a petition is not filed within that time frame the ability to contest the SSS is forever lost. Time is obviously of the essence when dealing with the SSS. The first pleading that must be filed, the Petition to Rescind must contain all issues the arrestee desires to contest. There are only a limited number of issues properly raised via the pleading. First, did the officer have reasonable grounds to initially stop your vehicle? Second did the officer possess probable cause to arrest you for DUI? Third did the officer read the Warning to Motorist. And fourth after having been read the WTM did you refuse a test or submit with alcohol at or above 0.08 (or any amount of controlled substance). Discovery is critical in these cases. Especially dash cams, sally port cams, interview room video, narrative police reports, and all breath machine log book information. After all relevant discovery has been reviewed a decision must be made whether a legitimate issue exists to contest the SSS. If so, issue subpoenas, request cooperating witnesses to appear, and arrange all other evidence for court. A continuance is always possible if needed but the arrestee will waive the rule requiring a hearing be conducted within 30 days if the case is continued on their motion. At the hearing the motorist has the burden of proof therefore he presents his evidence first. It is imperative to "nail down" the arresting officer's version of events. Case law requires the field sobriety tests be performed according to standards. Any deviation from the manner in which they are applied can result in the results be worthless. I suggest using the NHTSA student manual to cross examine the officers. This manual can be found online in various locations. A complete knowledge of both the statutes, administrative regulations, and practical knowledge of how the police conduct themselves during DUI arrests is necessary to attempt this type of hearing. Experience conducting SSS hearings is a must.