I just received a phone call from a client who was arrested last night for a DUI and was asking me questions about the paperwork that the police gave her when she left the police station. More importantly, she wanted to know what a Statutory Summary Suspension means and how this will affect her ability to drive. Because I’ve been handling DUI’s throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Kane County for 25 years, it’s easy to forget how confusing the whole DUI process can be for someone who does not handle cases like this every day. So, I want to take this opportunity to explain the Statutory Summary Suspension process so you can understanding what is happening, and what will happen in the coming months with your driver’s license.
In Illinois, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle upon the public roads while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are found guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), you could be facing criminal penalties which cannot exceed one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Most people know this. But what many people do not know is that when you have a DUI case, you also have a separate legal matter between you and the Illinois Secretary of State which involves your driver’s license. If a police officer requests that you submit to a Breathalyzer Test and your blood alcohol level (B.A.C.) is .08 or above, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months starting 46 days after your arrest for a DUI. If the police officer asks you to take a Breathalyzer Test, and you refuse to take that test, your license will be suspended for 12 months starting 46 days after your arrest for a DUI.
A refusal to take a Breathalyzer Test is defined a little more broadly than simply refusing to submit to the test. If you agree to take the test and are unsuccessful in submitting an adequate breath sample, then this will be considered a refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer Test. What typically happens is that the police officer will instruct you on what you must do to provide an adequate breath sample so that the machine can register a valid result. You must pay close attention to what the police officer is saying because if you do not follow the police officer’s instructions and are unable to provide an adequate breath sample, the Secretary of State will try to suspend your license for 12 months because they will consider this to be a refusal.