DUI Breath Test Refusal: Should You Refuse?

To decide whether you should refuse a DUI breath test in Illinois, you need to understand the DUI arrest process and how prosecutors use Breathalyzer evidence.

At Richard F. Blass & Associates L.L.C., our DUI defense attorneys take an aggressive approach to defending clients accused of drunk driving in Elmhurst and the surrounding communities in DuPage County and Cook County. Here are some important things we think you should consider before agreeing to a breath test.

Probable Cause For A DUI Arrest

To arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving, a police officer must have probable cause. The officer will usually say that probable cause is based on the officer's observations of your driving and your behavior during the traffic stop. DUI arrest reports often include observations such as failure to signal, failure to maintain a lane, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol.

One way of defending against a DUI charge is to show that your behavior or your driving would not have given a reasonable person cause to arrest you.

Field Sobriety Tests And Preliminary Breathalyzer Tests

In addition to their personal observations, police officers use standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) and preliminary Breathalyzer tests (PBTs) to establish probable cause. Standardized field sobriety tests include:

  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test
  • The walk-and-turn test
  • The one-legged stand test

The preliminary Breathalyzer test involves a hand-held breath test device, which is used at the scene to estimate a driver's blood-alcohol content (BAC). Note: you are not required by law to take the preliminary Breathalyzer test, and you can refuse it without any negative consequences for your driving privileges. Additionally, the results of a preliminary breath test are not admissible as evidence if the DUI case goes to trial.

If you believe you can pass the FSTs and the PBT, you can agree to take them. If you doubt that you can pass the tests at the scene, you should politely refuse them.

The Official Chemical Test Is Different

Unlike the preliminary Breathalyzer test, the official chemical test can be admitted as evidence in a DUI case, and you cannot refuse the official test without penalty. The official breath, blood or urine test is typically administered at the police station after a driver has been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Note: if you refuse the official test at the police station, you face a 12-month suspension of your driving privileges. If you consent to the official test but fail it, you face a six-month suspension.

Contact A DUI Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing a DUI charge in Illinois, you should do whatever you can to fight it. The penalties for even a first-time violation are serious. For a free consultation to discuss your case and your defense options, contact us online or call 630-782-2000. The attorneys at Richard F. Blass & Associates L.L.C. provide aggressive DUI defense throughout DuPage and Cook counties.