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What rights do Illinois drivers have at sobriety checkpoints?

It is important for Illinois drivers to understand their options when stopped at DUI checkpoints to ensure their rights are upheld.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, over 41,900 people are arrested for driving under the influence across the state each year. Sometimes, such arrests come after drivers are stopped at sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety, or DUI, checkpoints are stops at highly visible locations where the authorities stop motorists and look for signs of impairment. In order to protect themselves from being arrested and facing the resulting consequences, it is important for drivers to understand their rights at such stops.

Answering questions

Typically, the first thing law enforcement officers do at DUI checkpoints is approach stopped vehicles and ask the drivers questions. They will use people's responses to determine whether they should investigate further. Often, motorists answer these questions because they feel obligated to do so. However, this is not the case.

Drivers at sobriety checkpoints may refuse to speak with law enforcement officers and choose to keep their windows rolled up. They may present the authorities with a card stating their desire to exercise their constitutional rights. This includes the right to consult with an attorney before they answer questions and being allowed to go on their way if they are not being arrested.

Performing field sobriety tests

If the authorities suspect drivers are impaired, they may ask them to perform field sobriety tests. Although they may feel like they have no choice, motorists are not required to perform these tests. Sometimes, law enforcement officers may neglect to inform drivers of their right to refuse when they ask them to perform field sobriety tests.

It is important for drivers to understand that refusing field sobriety tests does not guarantee they will not be arrested for DUI. Rather, this may simply make it more difficult for the authorities to prove their cases. If motorists have not had anything to drink, however, performing field sobriety tests may help them prove to law enforcement they should be allowed to continue on their way.

Submitting to breath tests

Before a driver receives a ticket or is arrested, they are able to refuse preliminary breath tests with no consequences. Once motorists have received a ticket or been placed under arrest, however, Illinois state law requires drivers to submit to chemical testing. They may still refuse at this point, but doing so carries consequences.

Motorists who refuse chemical testing, including breath tests, are subject to a driver's license suspension of at least one year. This is in addition to the penalties that might be levied as a result of a DUI conviction. Furthermore, their refusal may be used as evidence against them during criminal proceedings.

Obtaining legal representation

Driving under the influence is considered a serious offense in Illinois and carries penalties with a potentially lasting impact. The decisions people make from the time they are stopped could have a significant effect on the outcome of their cases. In order to ensure their rights are upheld, it may be of benefit for those who have been arrested for DUI to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may help them understand their options and defend them against the charges they are facing.