One of the most common tips for avoiding a DUI is usually the least helpful, as well: When you see police lights flashing, it is already too late to go back in time and decide not to get behind the wheel. At this point, your best strategy to fight an Illinois drunk driving case is damage control. Fortunately, there are some recommendations that can help you through your encounter with police before, during, and after the stop. Considering the serious penalties associates with being convicted under Illinois’ DUI statute, you want to do all you can to protect your rights as early on as possible.
Before the Stop
To avoid raising suspicion by police, do not attract attention to yourself or your vehicle. Some recommendations include:
- If you choose to drink on a night out DO NOT DRIVE: This may seem obvious, but since we do not live in a zero-tolerance state, it is absolutely legal to drink and drive. What IS illegal is to be under the influence of alcohol. Driving after drinking any amount of alcohol gives the police reason to question if you are under the influence. Choose a designated driver.
- Avoid Traffic Violations and Erratic Maneuvers: Do not give police a reason to pull you over in the first place. Drive the speed limit, come to a complete stop at signs, use your turn signals, and comply with all traffic laws. Also, do not drive erratically or in such a way that police want to further investigate your condition.
- Be Prepared with Documents: As soon as you are safely pulled over, get out your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information. Put these items on the dashboard in plain view for the officer. Fumbling around for these documents may give police probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
During a DUI Detention
Your actions and behaviors during the encounter with police are critical, but you do have rights. Some tips include:
- Do Not Make Admissions Regarding Drinking: If an officer asks whether you have been drinking, politely decline to answer and state that your attorney told you to remain silent during any interaction with the police. Do not to provide information that might incriminate you. Do the same if police ask where you have been. Telling them you were having wine with dinner or drinking beer at a bar after work could give officers grounds to investigate further.
- Understand Your Rights Regarding Chemical Tests: There are two tests to assess your blood alcohol content (BAC). Before you are placed under arrest, you can refuse a preliminary blood alcohol test (PBT) at the scene when police use a portable breathalyzer. However, once you are arrested, you may choose to take a chemical test under Illinois’ implied consent laws. There are potential differing CIVIL penalties for taking vs not taking the test, but there will not be any enhanced criminal penalties for your choice.
After Your Release
When you are free to go, there are additional tips that give you an advantage in fighting DUI charges:
- Officially Request a Hearing: If you want to contest the suspension of your driver’s license, you must do so within 90 days after receiving official written notice. The paperwork you are given upon your release will tell you how and where to file a request for a hearing. If you fail to do so, your suspension automatically goes into effect.
- Retain an Experienced Illinois DUI Defense Attorney: You are entitled to defend yourself against drunk driving charges, both in the criminal case and the administrative proceedings involving your driving privileges. A knowledgeable attorney can help by identifying weaknesses in the allegations against you, and by presenting evidence that favors your side of the case.
Reach Out to a Skilled Illinois DUI Defense Lawyer for Legal Help
For more information on the advantages of hiring an attorney to defend you in a drunk driving case, please contact Glasgow & Olsson to schedule a consultation. You can reach our office by calling 847-577-8700 or going online to request an appointment.
(image courtesy of Alvaro Reyes)