Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) in Illinois is dangerous and illegal. To protect public safety, law enforcement officers attempt to search out drunk drivers and arrest them to get them off the road. Illinois has enacted strict DUI laws to dissuade driver’s from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. Police have many methods for detecting drunk drivers on the road. They look for driving behaviors that indicate drunk driving, patrol at times and in areas where there is a high occurrence of drunk driving, and at times set up DUI sobriety checkpoints.
DUI Driving Behaviors
In order to pull a driver over for drunk driving, the officer must have reasonable suspicion. Several driving behaviors demonstrate impaired driving and can indicate drunk driving. These behaviors include:
- weaving in and out of lanes
- driving above or below the speed limit
- erratic driving
- driving on the wrong side of the road
- following another car too closely
- driving without headlights
DUI Sobriety Checkpoints
Police can legally set up checkpoints to pull over drivers to see if they are intoxicated. They must abide by specific standards to protect the legality of the checkpoints. The Supreme Court found that checkpoints are legal as long as the stops are not arbitrary and that they serve an important government purpose. Since DUI checkpoints protect the public safety by preventing drunk driving, they serve an important purpose. Additionally, cars must be stopped in a specific way, for instance, every 4th car. These checkpoints must be clearly marked and advance notice given to the public. Checkpoints are usually set up on a public road at times when drivers may be driving while intoxicated such as during holidays and after midnight on weekends. Police officers do not need reasonable suspicion to pull over a driver at a DUI checkpoint. They can pull over any driver as long as it follows the preset pattern for stops. For more information about DUI Sobriety Checkpoints in Illinois, visit our DUI webcrawler.
Signs of Intoxication
Whether drivers are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or for reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, the officer will assess all behaviors to determine evidence of drunk driving. The officer will ask for the driver’s license and registration and may ask a few questions. Behaviors and signs that indicate intoxication include:
- slurred speech
- difficulty getting license and registration
- uncoordinated movement
- flushed face
- smell of alcohol on breath or in car
Right to Remain Silent
Drivers pulled over for suspected DUI have the right to remain silent. If you are pulled over for DUI, you have the right to remain silent. Be polite to the officer and provide your license and registration, but do not feel obligated to continue to answer questions. The officer will attempt to gather evidence of intoxication, and you do not need to incriminate yourself.
Search of Car
Even if you are pulled over at a DUI Checkpoint, you do not need to give permission for a search of your car. The checkpoint allows law enforcement to pull over driver’s without reasonable suspicion, but it does not allow them to search your car. If they ask to search your car, you can politely decline.
Field Sobriety Tests
Based on what the officer sees once you are pulled over, you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests (FST). These tests are designed to give the officer more evidence of the driver’s intoxication. You can politely refuse to take the field sobriety test, but the officer may still arrest you based on other behavior witnessed during the stop. Three FSTs have been sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The following three tests are most commonly used:
- horizontal gaze nystagmus
- one-leg stand
- walk and turn
Since coordination is impacted when intoxicated, some experts feel that poor performance on these tests indicate intoxication. Currently these tests are performed by police officers and can be used as evidence of intoxication, but several researchers doubt their validity.
If you perform poorly on the FSTs, the officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. These breathalyzer tests are often inaccurate and are not admissible in court, though the officer can use them as reason to arrest you for driving under the influence. Once you are arrested for driving under the influence, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test (breathalyzer or blood test). At this point, if you refuse, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended since Illinois has an implied consent law. This means that by driving with an Illinois license, you are showing your consent to submit to chemical testing if you are arrested for driving under the influence.
Call a Chicago DUI Attorney for Help
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, whether you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint or for reasonable suspicion, you need the help of a Chicago DUI attorney. Contact the office of Dennis F. Dwyer, Chicago DUI attorney, to learn more about how he can defend your DUI case. He has experience dealing with all types of DUI matters and can determine the best method for helping you with your DUI charges. The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe and long lasting. Make sure to protect your rights by enlisting the help of Dennis F. Dwyer today.