DUI offenses are usually established with chemical tests that measure the levels of alcohol or drugs contained in the suspect’s body system.
The breathalyzer is a common DUI chemical testing device, and many people believe that a DUI arrest and conviction solely depend on its results. Yet that is not the case.
Illinois law on DUI testing is broad and allows for several testing techniques, including the breathalyzer. So, yes. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI offense, you can be charged and convicted without breathalyzer testing if other testing methods are applied.
The outcome of your DUI case mostly depends on the type of testing applied in your case and the specific results from the test. So, below, we explain how breathalyzers and other testing methods work to help you understand what you’re up against as you prepare for your defense.
When a person consumes alcohol, it goes straight to their bloodstream. The alcohol-infused blood is distributed across the parts of the body, including the lungs. When the person exhales, some of the alcohol leaves the body through their breath. That is why it is easy to tell when a person has been drinking just by standing close to them and smelling their breath.
This is basically how the breathalyzer works.
Breathalyzers are scientific breath-testing devices that measure a person’s alcohol concentration levels before or after a DUI arrest. They use a person’s breath to determine whether or not the person’s alcohol levels exceed the legal limit.
0.08 percent of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or
0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
The first limit above applies to blood tests or tests involving other bodily substances. But the second applies to breath testing or, in this case, a breathalyzer. If a breathalyzer detects up to 0.08 grams of alcohol in a person’s breath, they could face DUI charges and a DUI conviction.
You can refuse to take a breathalyzer test, but there are consequences for that refusal. Also, you may still be convicted without the test since there are other ways to determine your guilt.
Before you refuse to test, it may be best to seek legal counsel from a DUI defense lawyer to determine whether a refusal is an ideal course of action in your circumstances. So, if you were wondering, Do I Need A Lawyer If I Was Arrested While Driving Under the Influence? The answer is yes.
Illinois law allows law enforcement officers to use other testing methods in addition to or as an alternative to the breathalyzer to gather sufficient evidence that a DUI offense has been committed.
They include the following:
As stated earlier, a blood test in DUI cases is used to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration levels and confirm whether it exceeds the statutory maximum.
It is generally considered the most accurate chemical test for determining DUI liability. However, the blood testing process could take time since the blood can only be analyzed by specific laboratories approved by the government, which is why breathalyzers are more popular.
Police officers in Illinois are allowed to use standardized field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to check a person’s level of intoxication, especially with drugs (cannabis).
A field sobriety test involves certain movements that measure a person’s balance, coordination, and cognitive ability during arrest. The arresting police officer carries out the tests and observes the conduct of the person being tested. If they fail to perform the required movements successfully, they would likely be charged with a DUI.
The NHTSA has three standardized field sobriety testing methods commonly used by Illinois law enforcement officers and across the U.S. as follows:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): This test measures nystagmus (the medical term for an involuntary jerking or stuttering type of eye movement ). This movement may occur naturally but becomes exaggerated when a person is intoxicated. In such cases, the movement becomes more obvious when the eyes move or are made to move to the side. That horizontal movement may be used as evidence of a person’s intoxication for DUI purposes.
Walk-and-Turn. In this test, the law enforcement officer instructs a driver to take several steps in a straight line, turn, and walk back similarly. While the person walks, the arresting officer looks for signs of impairment or intoxication, such as lack of balance or failure to follow instructions. Failure to complete the task successfully without errors or deviations may suggest intoxication-induced impairment.
One-Leg Stand: The test assesses a person’s ability to balance on one leg for a given period. If the person is intoxicated, it would be difficult to complete the task.
There are rules governing the administration of these and other DUI tests. The prosecution must show that the rules were followed and that the tests were properly administered by a trained officer to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt and secure a DUI conviction based on these tests.
Conversely, those facing DUI charges based on the results of these testing methods may be able to challenge their charges by showing that the test was improperly administered or that the officer did not have the required training to administer the test.
A DUI conviction leads to serious penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and driver’s license suspension. You need to defend yourself and fight you’d charge fiercely if you hope to avoid these penalties.
Since your charges are most likely based on the results of chemical or field sobriety testing, your defense strategy would need to include disputing the accuracy of the results.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows how the criminal justice system works in DUI cases. They are an invaluable resource and can help build a strong defense that could set you free from your charges.
They can assess the details of your case to verify that the appropriate legal procedures were followed during your testing and when you were arrested. With their knowledge of Illinois DUI laws, they can challenge the validity of the chemical or sobriety tests if they find that the rules have not been followed.
Other than questioning your test results, DUI lawyers can employ other strategies to ensure that you get off as lightly as possible, depending on the circumstances of your case. This could include negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution to help you get a reduced sentence or reduced charges.
The bottom line is that the DUI testing and arrest process is often riddled with errors. Having a lawyer represent you throughout your case is a good way to ensure that you do not suffer and end up with a criminal record due to the mistakes of others.
At Hirsch Law Group, we understand the Consequences Of A Drunk Driving Charge In Illinois and the intricacies of the various chemical and field sobriety tests used by law enforcement officers. We can evaluate your case and help determine whether the proper procedure was followed while you were tested.
We can also help disprove the evidence against you and work to ensure you walk away from your trial with as minimal liability as possible.
As seasoned criminal defense attorneys, you can trust us to represent your interests and help you set up a formidable defense on your behalf in court, regardless of the specifics of your case.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your concerns about your case. Let us help you as you prepare for your defense.