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What do 'implied consent' laws mean in Illinois?

The implied consent laws in Illinois essentially say that the ability to own a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. By implication, anyone with a license has given the police consent to test for chemical impairments.

In other words, merely obtaining a license means that you have already agreed to submit to drug or alcohol screening through a Breathalyzer test, urine screening or blood test. Here are some important things that every driver should realize about the rules surrounding implied consent in Illinois:

1. You don't have to be driving to fall subject to drunk driving laws

You only have to be in physical control of a vehicle to be subject to drunk driving laws. For example, you can be accused of drunk driving if you are simply sleeping off a few drinks in the front seat of the car prior to driving home.

2. The police can choose which test will be administered

Drivers cannot pick which test they prefer to have used. This can be problematic because there are known issues with Breathalyzers. Many are calibrated incorrectly or give inaccurate results. They can also give false-high readings due to things like traces of alcohol in someone's mouth or elevated ketones in someone's body due to diet or diabetes. Blood tests are far more reliable -- although blood tests are also fallible and depend on the skill of the lab technician reading the results.

3. You can be tested while unconscious

If you are physically unable to cooperate with chemical testing, the police can still take your blood. Even if you are unconscious, officers can arrange to have a nurse draw your blood since you are deemed to have already given your consent.

4. Refusal has immediate consequences

If you do refuse to submit to chemical testing, the police officer will inform you that you will face immediate consequences, including the automatic suspension of your license. You may face additional penalties depending on the circumstances. However, it is possible to contest the suspension.

An attorney can help you better understand your rights under the implied consent laws and your possible defenses to a drunk driving charge.

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