If you've been pulled over for suspected DUI or driving under the influence of drugs in Illinois, you will most likely be asked to submit to a series of questions and tests to "prove" whether or not you are sober, or have been drinking and are driving under the influence of alcohol. These tests, administered by a law enforcement officer, can be confusing and seem useless or intimidating. It's understandable to be nervous about performing these tests, especially if it's your first time because simple mistakes can make your fail these tests, even when completely sober.
If you've been pulled over for a DUI in Illinois, call DUI Lawyers 24/7 as soon as you can. No matter the circumstances, our experienced Kane County DUI attorneys are ready to fight for you. No one should suffer undue punishments or consequences for making a mistake.
What are the Different Types of Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois?
There are three main standardized field sobriety tests used in Illinois, to test the level of physical control a person has:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - tests involuntary jerking of the eyeball when eyes are rotated at extreme angles, this jerking is much more prominent in those who have been consuming drugs or alcohol.
- Walk-and-turn test - subject walks along a straight line, turns 180 degrees, and walks back. Cannot stumble, falter, or fall.
- One-leg stand test - subject stands on one leg, cannot fall, waver, or place second leg down
Each of these tests is different, but they each attempt to find the same thing: whether or not the testee has been consuming alcohol, by testing their physicality and physical control. These tests are administered by a law enforcement officer, and while each test is different, they are all used to gather evidence towards proving you guilty of a DUI. This evidence is not damning, and an experienced lawyer can question their validity and importance in court, before a judge.
Be Prepared: What to do After a DUI in Illinois
Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?
While these tests can be accurate at identifying those who are driving under the influence of alcohol, they can also be just as accurate at identifying those with bad balance or who haven't gotten enough sleep, those that are fearful of or intimidated by the police officer, and can be affected by passing traffic, weather conditions, and by administrator error on the part of officers.
The one-legged stand test, for example, can be extremely hard for a sober person with bad balance or difficulty standing on a single foot for a period of time. Stumbling, falling, or using your arms for balance during the one-legged stand test is taken as a sign of intoxication by the administering police officer, though in reality, the subject may just have a hard time balancing on one foot. This goes for the walk-and-turn test as well, those with bad balance are not able to perform this test regardless of sobriety.
While those who are suffering from alcohol impairment do have more uncontrollable eye jerks during the HGN test, persons with vision problems or who are suffering from a lack of sleep can also exhibit more jerks than normal or average, even while completely sober.
Even breathalyzers can be incorrect. That is why many DUI attorneys suggest that their clients do not submit to any field testing whatsoever, and wait to be tested until they arrive at the police station, via chemical testing. Chemical testing, such as pulling blood samples from a subject, will 100% show the alcohol concentrations in a person's blood at the time of pull and, aside from tests being corrupted in some way, are generally accurate all of the time. This is the best and most accurate way to gauge whether or not the consumption of alcohol has happened.
Do I Have to Submit to Field Sobriety Testing?
Illinois law allows for all citizens to refuse to submit to breathalyzer testing or field sobriety testing. This is not without penalty, however. If you refuse to submit to testing you will be arrested immediately, and your license will be suspended.
If you choose not to submit to testing, simply inform the law enforcement officers that you are invoking your right to stay silent, your 5th amendment right against self-incrimination, and that you wish to speak with your defense attorney. You will still be required to identify yourself and provide your driver's license, car registration, and proof of insurance.
After refusing the testing, you will be arrested for a DUI. This does not mean that you have been convicted of a DUI, just that you are being charged with one. Once you arrive at the police station, you will be booked by a police officer and at some point, prior to your bond hearing, you will be required to submit to a chemical test to gauge your blood alcohol content.
Related Content: Do You Have to Take a Breathalyzer in Illinois?
Is it Better to Wait to be Tested at the Police Station?
In almost every case, it is better to wait until you have been booked to have your blood alcohol level tested. Unlike field testing, chemical testing is accurate an overwhelming majority of the time, save for situations in which the sample has been contaminated in some way and must be thrown out.
Refusing often incorrect standardized field sobriety tests, and waiting until you have been booked to have your blood drawn also can lower any evidence of intoxication in your blood if there is any. For those who are entirely sober but are afraid of failing the standardized tests for the field, once your chemical blood tests come back negative for any alcohol the charges against you will almost always be automatically dismissed.
At the time of writing, Illinois has not approved any roadside chemical tests for active field use, so if you refuse field sobriety testing, you will be arrested. This arrest can look bad to potential or current employers, landlords, or lenders, but once your case has been dismissed it is simple and easy to have those arrest records wiped so that they no longer appear on background checks.
Get Help With Your DUI Charge
Driving Under the Influence is a serious charge, that can carry jail time, years of suspended licenses, and hefty fines. Police officers aren't infallible, they make mistakes just like the rest of us and a bad field sobriety test shouldn't mess up your future when you haven't done anything wrong.
If you've been arrested on suspicion of a DUI in Illinois, now is the time to call DUI Lawyers 24/7. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to have your charges dropped or record cleared. No matter the circumstances, a single mistake, a stumble, or a momentary loss of balance shouldn't ever change the course of a person's life. At DUI Lawyers 24/7 we know that our clients are human, and just like every other human, they make mistakes. It's our job to make sure those mistakes don't affect the rest of our clients' lives, and we take our job very seriously.