If the police in Kane, DuPage, or DeKalb counties have ever pulled you over on suspicion of drinking and driving, you are probably familiar with field sobriety tests. Even if you have not, you likely know about them anyway. They are the physical tests that help police officers form an opinion if a driver is impaired by alcohol. Similarly, you may have been asked to take a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine if you are over the legal limit in Illinois of 0.08.
In short, you can legally refuse both field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. Standardized field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test exist to help create probable cause to arrest you on a DUI charge. Thus, it would seem to make sense not to submit to field sobriety tests when the police ask you. But is declining testing against the law in Illinois? What can happen if you say no?
Implied consent and the consequences for a refusal
Illinois has an implied consent law that states that by driving in the state, a motorist implicitly consents to undergo field sobriety testing upon a police officer’s request. However, failure to obey is not a crime. It will result in your driver’s license getting suspended (which likely would also happen if you are convicted of DUI or plead guilty), but no jail time, community service or other criminal penalties.
Do field sobriety tests really work?
One reason to consider not performing field sobriety tests is their unreliability. Many factors could cause you to “fail” the tests besides being over the limit for alcohol. For example, weather conditions could make the shoulder slippery and cause you to stumble. Nervousness about getting pulled over and possibly arrested could also affect your balance and concentration. But the officer might judge the driver to be impaired anyway.
It’s your decision
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether to submit to field sobriety tests or not. If you get arrested and charged with DUI, you would benefit from sound legal advice and strong representation to help you deal with the charges.