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Understanding Field Sobriety Tests During Illinois DUI StopsBefore police even pull you over for a DUI stop, they will be watching your actions and the way you are driving to determine if a traffic stop is needed. The police officer will be looking for signs of alcohol impairment, such as failing to maintain proper lane position, speeding and braking problems, poor judgment and lack of vigilance. Once the officer believes they have enough evidence to initiate a traffic stop, they will pull you over and may ask you to step out of the vehicle. If the officer suspects that you might be under the influence of alcohol, they will ask you to complete a series of tests, which are called field sobriety tests. These can be standardized or non-standardized, although standardized field sobriety tests tend to hold up better in court because they have been extensively studied. 

Standardized Tests

Standardized field sobriety tests have been studied and determined to be fairly accurate in determining if someone is impaired by alcohol. An officer will ask you to perform these tests during almost every traffic stop for suspicion of DUI. There are three types of field sobriety tests that are considered to be standard:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN): During this test, the officer will be looking at the involuntary shaking of your eyeball as you gaze to the side, following the motion of the officer’s finger or pen. This is a phenomenon that occurs when people rotate their eyes at high peripheral angles but is exaggerated and occurs at lesser angles when a person is impaired by alcohol. 
  • Walk-and-turn: This test involves you walking along a line on the ground while maintaining your balance and focus. The officer will ask you to take nine heel-to-toe steps, turn on one foot and return in the same manner. The officer will be watching to see if you can follow directions and how intact your balance is.
  • One-leg stand: During this test, you will be instructed to stand with one of your feet about six inches off of the ground, during which you will be asked to count out loud until the officer tells you that you can stop after about 30 seconds. The officer will be looking to see if you can balance without swaying, putting your foot down or using your arms to keep balanced.

Non-Standardized Tests

The type of tests that officers use typically depends on the specific police department they work for and that department’s policies. Illinois police have been known to use other non-standardized tests during DUI traffic stops, which you may be able to challenge in court. These tests include:

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Can I Refuse to Take a Chemical Test If I Am Pulled Over for DUI in Illinois?One of the most serious laws you can break when you are behind the wheel of a car is driving while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a police officer spots you while you are driving and thinks that you may be under the influence, he or she will immediately pull you over. Before the officer even walks to your vehicle, they will be assessing you and your behavior to determine whether or not you are intoxicated. They may ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. If you do not do well with them, they may request that you blow into a Breathalyzer so they can determine your blood-alcohol content (BAC) or they may arrest you and request that you complete chemical testing at the police station. Can you refuse to take that chemical test?

Implied Consent Laws

Illinois law states that any person with a state driver's license who is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle is deemed to have given their consent to have their blood, breath or other bodily substance tested to determine their BAC or whether or not there are any drugs or intoxicating compounds in their system. You do not even have to be conscious to have a chemical test performed on you because you are deemed to have already given your consent. Illinois law states that a person who is dead, unconscious or otherwise unable to refuse to perform a chemical test is not deemed to have revoked his or her consent.

Consequences for a Refusal

Can you refuse a chemical test, despite the implied consent law? The answer to the question is yes – technically. You have the right to refuse a chemical test, but you will face negative consequences for doing so. In Illinois, the first time you refuse to take a chemical test will result in your driving privileges being suspended for 12 months, though you will be eligible to apply for a monitoring device driving permit. You will face a suspension of your driving privileges for three years for the second or subsequent time you refuse to take a chemical test within five years of your first offense.

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What Makes an Illinois DUI Charge an Aggravated DUI?In Illinois, any DUI charge that is classified as a felony charge is automatically considered to be an aggravated DUI charge. As the name suggests, aggravated DUI is more serious than a misdemeanor DUI and carries more serious consequences. Aggravated DUI charges can range anywhere from a Class 4 felony to a Class X felony, depending on the circumstances.

Class 4 Felonies

A Class 4 felony is the least serious classification of felony charges, though a conviction can still carry a sentence of one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Examples of Class 4 felony aggravated DUI charges include:

  • A first DUI offense while transporting a minor younger than 16 in the vehicle that resulted in bodily harm to the child;
  • A second DUI offense committed while transporting a child younger than 16;
  • DUI committed while driving a school bus with at least one minor on board;
  • DUI committed while driving a vehicle-for-hire with a passenger inside;
  • DUI resulting in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement;
  • DUI committed without a valid driver’s license; and
  • DUI committed without vehicle insurance.

Class 3 Felonies

A conviction for a Class 3 felony means you will face two to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. A DUI conviction is a Class 3 felony if you had a previous reckless homicide DUI conviction or aggravated DUI conviction involving a death.

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Exploring Illinois DUI and Statutory Summary SuspensionsBeing convicted of driving under the influence means you might have to face some rather daunting penalties. Even a run-of-the-mill DUI conviction in Illinois can carry lengthy jail time, hefty fines and a loss of driving privileges. These are all criminal penalties, but unbeknownst to some people, you can also face civil penalties for violations of Illinois’ DUI laws that can affect your day-to-day life in many ways. One of these civil penalties of DUI is a statutory summary suspension, which can cause you to temporarily lose your driving privileges.

What is a Statutory Summary Suspension?

Like all states, Illinois has an implied consent law, which states that all those who are driving on Illinois roads or hold an Illinois driver’s license have given their implicit consent that police may perform a chemical test on their blood, breath or urine if police have reason to suspect that the person was driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The statutory summary suspension policy allows the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office to suspend the driver’s license of any person who fails a chemical test, refuses to take a chemical test or does not finish a chemical test.

Consequences for Failed or Refused Chemical Tests

Failing a chemical test means that you were found to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, a THC concentration of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of whole blood or a trace of any other type of drug, legal or illegal. Failing a chemical test a first time will result in a six-month driving suspension. Failing a chemical test a second or subsequent time within five years of the first means you will face a one-year driving suspension. 

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Cook County DUI defense lawyer underage drinking and drivingWhen examining traffic offenses or crimes that can be committed while driving, a DUI is one of the most serious charges one can face. The state of Illinois has cracked down on drunk driving in recent years for both underage drivers and adult drivers. Underage DUI is a very serious crime in Illinois. Not only is an offender violating DUI laws, but they are also violating the minimum drinking age laws. Having a teenage child who gets caught drinking and driving can be a nerve-wracking experience, but understanding the laws and the consequences for breaking them can help ease some of the uncertainty.

Zero Tolerance Laws

In an effort to reduce the number of teenagers who drink and drive, Illinois has adopted zero tolerance laws for drivers under the age of 21. Under these laws, any blood alcohol content (BAC) over .00 will result in charges. A first-time offender will lose their driving privileges for three months for any BAC that is over .00. They will lose their driving privileges for six months if they refuse to take a chemical test.

A second-time offender can expect to face much more serious consequences if he or she is caught drinking and driving while under the age of 21. A second offense under the zero tolerance laws will result in the loss of driving privileges for one year for a BAC over .00 or a loss of driving privileges for two years for refusing to take a chemical test.

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