Regardless of the circumstances, when you’re driving, one of the last things you want to see is flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Getting stopped by law enforcement can delay your arrival at your destination. If the officer who pulls you over believes that you broke the law, it could also mean an expensive ticket.
When the officer who stops you asks you to perform a breath test because they suspect impairment or because you admit to having had a drink earlier in the day, you may wonder what rights you have. After all, performing a chemical breath test by the side of the road could result in social embarrassment if anyone you know drives by, to say nothing of the potential consequences if the test shows that you are over the legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).
In order to avoid those potential negative outcomes, some people may wonder if they can refuse a chemical breath test as a way of protecting themselves from a DUI charge.
Officers can’t physically force you to take the test, but refusing has consequences
Officers cannot compel you during an initial traffic stop to perform a chemical test. If you refuse to submit to a test when they request it, the officer will likely arrest you at that time for a violation of Illinois’ implied consent law.
Under the implied consent law, anyone who drives on the roads or gets a license from the state of Illinois agrees to permit chemical testing for impaired driving enforcement. Refusing the test is an offense that carries results in the immediate suspension of your license. Unlike other kinds of suspensions, you cannot secure a limited or hardship license during the penalty period for refusing a chemical test.
Refusing could lead to DUI charges anyway
Officers cannot physically force you to take a test but they can use your refusal of grounds to seek a warrant for a blood draw, which the state can then charge you for performing. Even if they don’t secure chemical tests that document chemical impairment, the officer can still testify in court about your refusal, which could mean that the courts presume you knew you should not be behind the wheel.
Not only will you potentially face the consequences of the violation of the implied consent law, but you could also wind up convicted of a DUI despite having never provided a chemical sample.