Illinois DUI: Refusal to Take a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

In Illinois, if you get pulled over for a DUI and the officer asks you to take a blood, breath, or urine test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?

Implied Consent

Illinois law requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI. Illinois’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC).  You do not have the right to speak to an attorney before you are tested, and the test must be given as soon as possible from the time when you were last driving. Although the arresting officer gets to choose which test you take, you have the option to get additional tests afterward taken by a medical professional of your choice.

You could be arrested for a DUI even if you were not driving. If you have actual, physical control of the vehicle while under the influence, then that can be enough for an officer to arrest you. Whether you have actual, physical control of a vehicle depends on where you are sitting, if you have the key, and if you have the ability to start and move the vehicle. In one case, an Illinois court decided that a person had actual, physical control of his car even though he had not driven it to the place where a police officer found him asleep. This person was lying across the front seat of his car with his head on the passenger side. He had the motor running to keep the heater on. Although this person did not intend to move the car, the combination of his position in it, the running motor, and evidence of his intoxication was enough for the court to uphold his DUI conviction. (This case is City of Naperville v. Watson, 677 NE 2d 955(1997).)

Additionally, Illinois law says that you consent to taking a preliminary breath test, even if you have not been arrested. This works like a field sobriety test. The officer will use the results to establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence. You do not have to take this preliminary test. Refusing it, however, probably won’t work in your favor if the officer has some other reason to think you had been drinking. Based on that other reason, the officer could still arrest you and then you will be required to take a test under the law described above.

You can read Illinois’s implied consent law in Illinois Statute 625-5/11-501.1.

Refusing to Take the Test

 

1st Offense

2nd offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year license suspension

3 years license suspension

3 years license suspension

Once you are arrested, the officer should warn you that your license will be suspended if you refuse to take a test. If this is your first refusal, the suspension will last for one year. If you have had any prior refusals, your suspension will last for three years. After you refuse, the officer must submit a sworn report to the Illinois Secretary of State that explains the details of the refusal, and he or she must send you notice of your suspension. The actual suspension begins 46 days after you receive that notice.

The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in Illinois Statute 625-5/6-208.1

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DUI Test in Illinois?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DUI. In Illinois, the consequences for refusal are milder than those for a DUI, which include jail time, fines, and community service. Refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted – you can still be found guilty of a DUI even if your refusal means that the state does not have proof that your BAC was over.08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because you knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of DUI.

(Check out our blood alcohol content chart for an estimate of how many drinks it takes to get to the legal limit.)

Get Help With Your DUI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Illinois or any other state, get help from an experienced DUI attorney. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUI has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s court.

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