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6 Things You Should Know About a DUI Stop

Updated on May 24, 2024 → Under

Being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) can be a nerve-wracking experience with serious legal consequences. Understanding your rights and responsibilities during a DUI stop is crucial for protecting yourself and navigating the situation effectively. In this blog post, we'll outline seven essential things you should know about a DUI stop, from what to expect during the encounter to your legal rights and potential consequences.

If you've been arrested for DUI or are facing legal issues related to a DUI stop, don't face the situation alone. Our team of experienced Wheaton DUI defense attorneys protects the rights of individuals facing DUI charges and is here to provide the guidance and representation you need.

Call our firm at (847) 359-4005 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you navigate the complexities of the legal process and pursue the best possible outcome in your case. Your future and freedom are our top priorities, and we're committed to fighting for your rights every step of the way.

Understand Your Rights

If you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI, it's important to understand your rights to protect yourself legally. Here are some key rights to keep in mind:

  1. Right to Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You are not required to answer questions beyond providing basic identification information.
  2. Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests: You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. These tests are voluntary and often subjective.
  3. Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer: In Illinois, you are able to refuse a breathalyzer test before being arrested. However, refusal may result in administrative penalties, such as a 6-month license suspension.
  4. Right to Request an Attorney: If you're arrested for DUI, you have the right to request an attorney. It's crucial to exercise this right and seek legal representation as soon as possible.
  5. Right to Know the Reason for the Stop: Law enforcement must have a valid reason, such as a traffic violation or suspicion of DUI, to pull you over. You have the right to know the reason for the stop.
  6. Right to Know Your BAC Test Results: If you're arrested and submit to a chemical BAC test, you have the right to know the results. This information is crucial for building a strong defense.
  7. Right to Due Process: You have the right to due process under the law, including the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

It's essential to remain calm and cooperative during a DUI stop while also asserting your rights. If you're unsure about your rights or facing DUI charges, it's advisable to consult with a qualified DUI attorney who can provide guidance and representation tailored to your case.

How Probable Cause Works

Probable cause in a DUI stop refers to the legal standard that allows law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search based on a reasonable belief that a crime has been or is being committed. In the context of a DUI stop, probable cause typically arises from observations made by the officer during the traffic stop, such as:

  1. Erratic Driving Behavior: Swerving, weaving between lanes, or driving at inconsistent speeds may provide probable cause for a DUI stop.
  2. Traffic Violations: Violations such as running red lights or stop signs, failure to use turn signals, or driving without headlights may give officers probable cause to initiate a DUI stop.
  3. Odor of Alcohol: If an officer detects the odor of alcohol on the driver's breath or in the vehicle, it may contribute to establishing probable cause for a DUI investigation.
  4. Physical Signs of Impairment: Observations of slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or difficulty maintaining balance may provide additional evidence of impairment and support a finding of probable cause.
  5. Performance on Field Sobriety Tests: If a driver exhibits signs of impairment during field sobriety tests, such as the inability to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg, it may contribute to establishing probable cause for a DUI arrest.
a police car pulling a driver over at night

It's important to note that the determination of probable cause is subjective and may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. However, officers must be able to articulate specific facts and observations that support their belief that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If probable cause is lacking or if the stop was conducted unlawfully, it may be possible to challenge the validity of the DUI arrest and any evidence obtained as a result. Consulting with a knowledgeable DUI attorney can help individuals understand their rights and options for defense in DUI cases.

What Field Sobriety Tests Are Used

In Illinois, law enforcement officers may administer standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) to assess a driver's level of impairment during a DUI stop. The three standardized field sobriety tests recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and commonly used in Illinois are:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

This test involves the officer observing the driver's eyes as they follow a slowly moving object, such as a pen or flashlight, held by the officer. Nystagmus, an involuntary jerking of the eyes, becomes more pronounced when a person is impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Walk-and-Turn (WAT) Test

During this test, the driver is instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn around, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer looks for specific indicators of impairment, such as difficulty maintaining balance, starting before instructed, or failing to touch heel-to-toe.

One-Leg Stand (OLS) Test

In this test, the driver is instructed to stand with one foot raised approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (e.g., "one thousand one, one thousand two"). The officer observes for signs of impairment, such as swaying, hopping, or using arms for balance.

These standardized field sobriety tests are designed to assess a driver's divided attention, balance, and coordination, all of which can be impaired by alcohol or drugs. While these tests are commonly used by law enforcement officers in DUI investigations, it's important to note that performance on these tests can be influenced by factors other than impairment, such as medical conditions or environmental factors.

If you're facing DUI charges based on field sobriety tests, it's advisable to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI attorney who can challenge the validity of the tests and advocate for your rights.

How Breathalyzer Tests Work

Breathalyzer tests, also known as breath alcohol tests or breath tests, are used to measure the concentration of alcohol in a person's breath. The most common type of breathalyzer test used by law enforcement is an electronic device that analyzes a sample of breath to estimate blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Here's how breathalyzer tests typically work:

  1. Breath Sample Collection: The individual being tested is asked to blow into a disposable mouthpiece connected to the breathalyzer device. As the person exhales, their breath passes over a sensor or chemical solution that reacts to the presence of alcohol.
  2. Alcohol Detection: The breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol present in the breath sample based on the chemical reaction or sensor response. The device calculates the BAC by analyzing the ratio of alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the blood.
  3. BAC Display: The breathalyzer displays the estimated BAC level on a digital screen or through a series of lights or symbols. This reading provides law enforcement with an indication of the individual's level of impairment due to alcohol consumption.
car keys and a glass of whiskey on a table

It's important to note that breathalyzer tests are not always 100% accurate and may be subject to factors that can affect the reliability of the results. External factors such as mouth alcohol from recent consumption of alcohol, residual alcohol in the mouth from mouthwash or breath fresheners, or certain medical conditions can potentially impact the accuracy of the test.

Despite their widespread use, breathalyzer test results can be challenged in court, and individuals have the right to request additional testing or consultation with an attorney. If you're facing DUI charges based on a breathalyzer test result, it's advisable to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI attorney who can evaluate the circumstances of your case and advocate for your rights.

Consequences of Refusing One

In Illinois, there are consequences for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests (FSTs) when stopped for suspicion of DUI. These consequences are outlined under the state's implied consent law, which requires individuals lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Here are the potential consequences of refusing such tests in Illinois:

  1. Driver's License Suspension: Refusal to submit to chemical testing typically results in an automatic suspension of the individual's driver's license. For a first-offense refusal, the suspension period is typically one year. For subsequent refusals, the suspension period may be longer.
  2. Enhanced Penalties: In addition to the administrative driver's license suspension, refusal to submit to chemical testing may result in enhanced penalties if the individual is subsequently convicted of DUI. Prosecutors may use the refusal as evidence of consciousness of guilt, potentially leading to harsher penalties upon conviction.
  3. Use of Other Evidence: While refusal to submit to chemical testing may result in license suspension and enhanced penalties, it's important to note that law enforcement may still gather other evidence to support a DUI charge, such as observations of impairment, witness statements, or dashcam footage.
  4. Right to Challenge: Individuals have the right to challenge the legality of a refusal and the subsequent consequences through an administrative hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. However, strict time limits apply for requesting a hearing, so it's crucial to act quickly.

It's important to understand that the consequences of refusing chemical testing vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and any prior DUI history. If you're facing DUI charges or license suspension for refusing chemical testing, it's advisable to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI attorney who can advocate for your rights and provide guidance throughout the legal process.

How to Get Copies of Documentation

In Illinois, individuals who have been involved in a DUI stop or arrest have the right to obtain copies of documentation related to the incident. Here's how you can request copies of documentation for a DUI stop or arrest in Illinois:

  1. Contact the Law Enforcement Agency: The first step is to contact the law enforcement agency that conducted the DUI stop or arrest. This could be the local police department, sheriff's office, or Illinois State Police, depending on the jurisdiction where the incident occurred.
  2. Submit a FOIA Request: In Illinois, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows individuals to request access to public records, including police reports and related documentation. You can submit a FOIA request to the appropriate law enforcement agency either in person, by mail, or online, depending on their specific procedures.
  3. Provide Necessary Information: When submitting your FOIA request, be sure to provide as much information as possible to help the agency locate the relevant records. This may include the date, time, and location of the DUI stop or arrest, as well as your name, driver's license number, and any other identifying information.
  4. Pay any Required Fees: Some law enforcement agencies may charge a fee for processing FOIA requests or providing copies of documentation. Be prepared to pay any required fees associated with your request, which can vary depending on the agency and the amount of documentation requested.
  5. Await Response: After submitting your FOIA request, the law enforcement agency will review it and provide a response within the time frame required by law. In Illinois, agencies generally have five business days to respond to FOIA requests, although extensions may be granted under certain circumstances.
  6. Review the Documentation: Once you receive copies of the documentation related to the DUI stop or arrest, carefully review the materials to understand the details of the incident and any evidence gathered by law enforcement.
a man getting pulled over for DUI

By following these steps and exercising your rights under the Freedom of Information Act, you can obtain copies of documentation for a DUI stop or arrest in Illinois. If you encounter any challenges or have questions about the process, consider seeking guidance from a qualified attorney familiar with DUI laws in Illinois.

Contact an Attorney for Help With a DUI Charge

being informed about what to expect during a DUI stop can help protect your rights and make the process smoother. Remember to remain calm, cooperate with law enforcement within reason, and exercise your rights respectfully. However, if you find yourself facing DUI charges, it's crucial to seek legal representation immediately.

Our experienced team at Dohman Law is here to provide guidance and support throughout your case. Don't hesitate to reach out for a consultation to discuss your legal options and ensure your rights are protected. Your future is too important to leave to chance. Take action today and let us advocate for you.

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