What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Illinois-DUIMost drivers will never have to decide whether to take a breathalyzer test or not. But if you are driving a vehicle in Illinois, you should be aware of what could happen to you and to your license if you are ever pulled over by a police officer and asked to take a breathalyzer test.

If a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol, that police officer has a right to take you down to the police station and ask that you take a breathalyzer test. If you are ever faced with a situation like this, you have to make a quick decision between two choices. Should you take a breathalyzer test or should you refuse to take a breathalyzer test? If you have not had any alcohol to drink, then the choice seems pretty clear. Taking a breathalyzer test would prove that you have no alcohol in your system. But if you have been drinking and are unsure about whether you should take a breathalyzer test, you need to be aware of what the consequences could be of refusing to take a breathalyzer test.

When a police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, the officer will hand you a document entitled, “Warning to Motorist” which will inform you that if you submit to a breathalyzer test and the test indicates that your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your driver’s license will be suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State for 6 months. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months by the Illinois Secretary of State. These driver’s license suspensions will take effect on the 46th day after your arrest.

If you submit to a breathalyzer test and the breathalyzer test indicates that your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, or if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, the officer will hand you a paper entitled “Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension.” The Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension will notify you that your license will be suspended, how long the license will be suspended for, why your license is being suspended, and when the license suspension will take effect. When you make an appointment with your DUI lawyer, you should bring those documents with you because they will contain important information which will help your DUI attorney decide whether he will be able to stop take the necessary steps to stop the Secretary of State from suspending your driver’s license.

In most DUI cases, your refusal to take a breathalyzer test may make it more difficult for the state to prove you guilty of a DUI. A breathalyzer test indicating that your blood alcohol level was .08 or above makes it easier for the state to prove you guilty of a DUI. But a lack of a breathalyzer test does not necessarily mean that the state will be unable to prove you guilty of a DUI. You may be found guilty of a DUI if all of the other evidence in the case is sufficient enough to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of a DUI. The state may be able to use an admission, or a statement, that you made to prove you guilty of a DUI. The police officers testimony regarding your performance of the field sobriety tests, and a dash cam video of the field sobriety tests, or the testimony of witnesses, may be enough to prove you guilty of a DUI even if there’s no breathalyzer test results.

Recently, local law enforcement officials have made announcements which point to a growing trend which could significantly impact DUI arrests and weather motorist may be able to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Several years ago, Kane County implemented a program called “No Refusal Weekends.” Kane County law enforcement officials would target certain weekends, such as Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, to conduct roadblocks. If officers suspected that a motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol, they would request that the motorist take a breathalyzer test. If the motorist refused, authorities would obtain a warrant authorizing them to take a blood test from the motorist from a Judge that was on the scene of the roadblock. Recently, McHenry County authorities announced that they have implemented an electronic system which allows them to immediately obtain warrants authorizing blood test from motorist who refuse to take breathalyzer tests. Squad cars are equipped with the electronic means to obtain warrants electronically signed by Judges who are on call 24 hours a day. Lake County authorities announced that they are working on a similar system which should be going into effect soon.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, DUI lawyer who has been handling DUI cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County, for over 25 years. The National Trial Lawyers have name James Dimeas as a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys have recognized James Dimeas as a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” James Dimeas has been named a “Best DUI Attorney” and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. Recently, the American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer In the State of Illinois For the Year 2018.” AVVO rates James Dimeas as “Superb”, the highest rating possible for any DUI lawyer in the United States.

If you are being charged with a DUI, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Blogs:

McHenry County and Lake County Announce Drastic Expansion of Police DUI Authority, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 15, 2018.

How Should I Answer Police Questions When I am Pulled Over for a DUI?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2018.

Arrested for a DUI. Warnings to Motorist and Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension. What Does This Mean?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, August 21, 2017.