I’ve gone a month without having a drink.
It’s not that I’m trying to quit or anything, I’m just not a drinker. I have nothing against booze or the people who love it, but I rarely ever get that “I’d like a drink” feeling. I probably haven’t been over the legal limit since sometime in the 1980’s.
So I always figured that if a cop asked me to take a breathalyzer test, I’d have nothing to worry about. I’d blow a straight zero and walk out of there. The alternative would be to refuse the test and get an automatic license suspension.
[R]emember that, in Texas, by the time you’re asked to blow into an Intoxilyzer-5000, you have probably already been arrested, which generally means that the cop thinks that he has probable cause (based on the field sobriety tests) to believe that you had lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties.
What if you haven’t been drinking at all? If you blow .00, you’re buying yourself a date with a “Drug Recognition Expert”, a cop trained to find some explanation for your loss of mental or physical faculties. Even if you haven’t been drinking, you can be prosecuted for DWI if the police think that you have lost your faculties because of the introduction of a drug into your body.
So don’t blow.
Well, that’s not good, although I suspect a prosecution based on a drug recognition expert would be pretty difficult if there’s no chemical evidence of drugs. (I don’t do drugs, either.)
This got me wondering what the rules are like here in Illinois, and if it’s really a good idea to refuse the test in Illinois when I haven’t been drinking. That got me started searching for advice from Illinois DUI lawyers, to see what they recommend.
I didn’t find anything, because I gave up after reading the FAQ list on the site of Jerald Novak and Associates. This struck me:
The police officer cannot force you to submit to a chemical test. However, if it is found that you refused the test, your Illinois Driver’s License will be suspended for a one-year period by the Department of Motor Vehicles no matter what the outcome of the court case is.
A one year suspension for refusing. That’s a lot.
However, according to the state’s CyberDriveIllinois site, the suspension is only for 6 months. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Jerald Novak is wrong: I’m not a lawyer, and DUI law is a snarl of badly-written statutes. He could easily be aware of penalties I can’t find with Google.
On the other hand, what is this “Department of Motor Vehicles” of which he speaks? I never heard of it. I renew my driver’s and vehicle licenses through the Driver Services department in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.
I think somebody copied a FAQ page from a lawyer in a different state and never got around to checking the details.