Illinois DUI Suspects to be Forced to Submit to BAC Testing
By: Gerri Elder
In some areas of the state, Illinois DUI suspects may soon not have to concern themselves with implied consent. Kane County officials say that people suspected of drunk driving will only have the choice to either voluntarily have their blood alcohol content measured by a breath, blood or urine test or they will have their blood drawn involuntarily.
Kane County's State's Attorney John Barsanti recently announced the No Refusal Weekend proposal, but did not answer questions about what weekend the forced blood draws will occur. Barsanti said that the program has been used in other states and was brought to his attention by First Assistant State's Attorney Clint Hull.
Under Illinois DUI law, a person suspected of drunk driving is required to submit to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing. DUI defense lawyers often recommend on their websites that people refuse testing if they suspect they are over the legal BAC limit for driving. Generally, it is more difficult to get a conviction on DUI cases without blood-alcohol evidence.
In Illinois and most other states, anyone arrested for DUI who refuses to submit to BAC testing will automatically have their driver's license suspended. If a person is over the age of 21 and is arrested for first-time misdemeanor DUI in Illinois, refusal of a BAC test results in a license suspension of six months. If the BAC test is taken and the suspect is over the .08 percent limit, their driver's license is usually immediately suspended for three months and for one year if convicted of Illinois DUI.
For those drivers who are suspected of DUI and have previous DUI convictions, a refusal to submit to BAC testing results in an automatic three year license suspension. If the BAC test is taken and the person is found to be over the legal limit for driving, the driver's license may be revoked if they are convicted of DUI.
According to the Daily Herald, Kane County officials are frustrated by the rate of refusals for BAC testing. In April, approximately 37 percent of first-time Illinois DUI suspects and 59 percent of the repeat offenders refused BAC testing. To combat the trend of BAC testing refusals, the county will hold a No Refusals weekend. During the No Refusal weekend, police will seek search warrants for blood testing for all DUI suspects who refuse to voluntarily submit to testing.
In preparation for No Refusal weekend, search warrants have been written in advance. Officers will only have to fill in specific details in each case and have an assistant state's attorney review it before it is signed by a judge. The Kane County Health Department will supply phlebotomists to do the blood draws. Barsanti seems to believe that the entire process will take between an hour and 90 minutes for each Illinois DUI suspect.
The costs for the No Refusal weekend, including the phlebotomists and the eight extra police officers that will work that weekend, will be paid for by the Kane County DUI Task Force. It is estimated that the costs will be around $9,000 for the weekend.
Barsanti is also optimistic that when faced with an order for an involuntary blood draw, most DUI suspects will agree to take a breath test instead and that more DUI suspects will take plea deals rather than go to trial. No word on whether he is also optimistic about the constitutional challenges to pre-written warrants and other civil rights violation challenges that may arise out of the No Refusal weekend.