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To blow or not to blow: The breathalyzer dilemma in Illinois

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | DUI

Law enforcement officers can use breathalyzer tests at DUI checkpoints to confirm any suspicions of impaired driving among drivers. Unlike Standardized Field Sobriety tests (SFSTs), which can be superficial, breathalyzers can (usually) definitively tell the police if a motorist’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% and above.

You might wonder if it’s prudent to refuse a breathalyzer test if you suspect that your BAC might be problematic. Fully comprehending the implications of such actions can help you make informed decisions during these critical moments.

The right to refuse, but with a price

You might be pleased to learn that the Prairie State law grants you the right to refuse a breathalyzer test. This refusal won’t prevent an arrest if the officer has probable cause, but it won’t be used as sole evidence of guilt in court.

However, there’s a catch: refusing a breathalyzer may trigger the suspension of your driver’s license on the spot. Even if it’s your first time refusing a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license may be suspended for an entire year. If you’re someone who greatly relies on your vehicles to move around, this can be a significant inconvenience. What’s more, this suspension is separate from any potential DUI charges and applies even if you’re ultimately not convicted.

As if that’s not enough, the officer may still request a blood or urine test as an alternative. Of course, unlike a breathalyzer, these tests require a warrant unless you consent. Refusing these tests could also lead to a harsher stance from the prosecutor.

Potential benefits of refusing the test

Despite these severe penalties, there might be strategic reasons to refuse a test. While breathalyzer results are more accurate than (SFSTs), they can be susceptible to errors. The results can be influenced by:

  • The calibration of the device
  • The administration of the test
  • Underlying medical conditions

Yet, the fact that refusing a breathalyzer test at a DUI stop in Illinois comes with an automatic suspension of your license is hard to ignore. Ultimately, the best strategy to fight DUI charges (and the complications that can arise from breathalyzer refusal, if applicable) is to speak with a trusted legal team if you get in trouble at a DUI checkpoint.