If you've been arrested for DUI in Illinois, you might already understand how a DUI conviction could be a life-changing event. In addition to the public humiliation at home and on the job, you face suspension or revocation of your driver's license. Loss of your license might result in loss of your job. And depending upon the severity of your offense, you might also face hefty monetary fines and the possibility of significant jail or prison time.
A DUI charge is nothing to take lightly. You need a knowledgeable and experienced Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer to review the specific facts and circumstances of your case at once to uncover your possible defenses. The help of a skilled Illinois DWI Defense Attorney could be critical to your case outcome and your future.
Drivers arrested for DUI sometimes are not, in fact, drunk. Driver fatigue, for instance, has been shown in multiple research studies to cause many of the same lapses in safe driving behavior as drunken driving. An experienced Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer understands that distraction can also cause you to weave on the road, remain stopped once a light has turned green, miss a light, or vary your driving speed, among other erratic driving behaviors commonly associated with drunken driving. Injuries, medical conditions, and prescribed medications could also lead to erratic driving behaviors or minor traffic violations that cause an officer to stop you.
If you've refused to take a Breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test or to yield a blood sample, a jury might see your refusal as evidence that you were drunk when in fact you were not. The prosecutor in DUI cases has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving drunk as charged. While there remains some dispute as to what constitutes reasonable doubt, you might be surprised to learn that a commonly used defense by Illinois DWI Defense Attorneys and their clients in DUI cases is that the driver was not drunk at the time of the offense. Distraction or drowsiness might have caused you to drive erratically and unsafely when you were not actually drunk.
Where no Breathalyzer or blood test results exist, your Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer might be able to successfully apply the defense that you were not drunk. The evidence against you might consist of witness testimony from those who saw you shortly before you began to drive or who saw you drive erratically. A police officer's testimony regarding his observations of your driving behavior and at the time of the stop and arrest might also be used against you. Certainly any incriminating statements you make might be used against you. It is important not to admit to charges or to volunteer information. Always consult with an Illinois DWI Defense Attorney before making any statements.
A "failing" field sobriety test result might be the result of injury, a medical condition, fatigue, or prescribed medications. If you've been pulled over and arrested because of a minor traffic moving violation, a skillful Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer might validly establish that you were sober at the time of your arrest.
In Illinois v. Farris (Court of Appeals, State of Illinois, 4/10/2012), the second-highest court in the State of Illinois denied police the right to forcibly extract blood from drivers. In some states, such as Texas, the courts and law enforcement strongly support forced blood draws as an effective means to enforce laws against drunken driving. Texas, particularly, has led the nation in the establishment of "no refusal" programs providing law enforcement with expedited procedures to support forced blood draws on motorists suspected of drunken driving. While a perhaps laudable step in the direction of public safety, Illinois at least feels that the forced blood draw might be going a bit too far.
In the Farris case, Jacqueline Farris was the driver of one of the vehicles involved in a wreck in Bradley, IL. The arresting officer smelled alcohol on Farris. Farris was transported to a hospital where she was asked to give a blood sample. She refused. The officer ordered a nurse to take a blood sample. Farris resisted, and three people had to restrain her so that the sample could be drawn. The test yielded a BAC of approximately 0.285, which a lower court tossed out as inadmissible on the basis that Illinois allows a forced blood draw only where a driver has caused death or personal injury in a victim.
The Farris court cited the precedent of the Jones case, where the Illinois supreme court found no practical need for forced body fluid samples since the Illinois Vehicle Code eliminated the advantages of refusing chemical testing. Chicago DUI Defense Lawyers caution that your refusal to submit to a test, under the Code, justifies statutory summary suspension of your license to drive. And, in the court's view, that suspension satisfies the need to protect the public from intoxicated motorists. Illinois DWI Defense Attorneys recognize that our state's laws allow judges and juries to use your refusal to submit to such tests as evidence of guilt and to automatically administratively suspend your driver's license for a year.
A knowledgeable Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer will point out that Breathalyzer test results have been shown to be unreliable in many cases. Women on some types of birth control medication, for instance, have been shown to metabolize alcohol at a different rate that can cause misleading DUI test results. An experienced Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer know the methods for challenging DUI testing results and could use those challenges to overturn your charge or get misleading evidence tossed out of court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that forced blood draws do not actually violate your Constitutional 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court held in Schmerber v. California that the Constitutional privilege only applies to written and oral communications, not to physical evidence, and that forced blood draws, if taken under humane and medically accepted circumstances, did not constitute due process violations. The U.S. Supreme Court did not examine the Farris case in regards to this issue, but the specific conditions of the Farris blood draw might be seen to violate due process protections.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in South Dakota v. Neville supports the Illinois position that refusal to take a Breathalyzer test or submit to a blood draw can be used as evidence against a defendant. The Supreme Court held that using the refusal as evidence against the defendant does not violate the Constitution's 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because the refusal is a matter of free choice and not compulsory.
Every DUI/DWI case is different. Your available defenses will depend on how the law applies to the specific facts of your individual case. It requires a knowledgeable and experienced Illinois DWI Defense Attorney to accurately apply the law to the particular facts of your case and to uncover the most applicable defenses for the charges against you.
For instance, where officers had no probable cause to arrest you or the stop was illegal, Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Michael Schmiege could file a motion to dismiss the charges against you.
If you refused a Breathalyzer test, Illinois DWI Defense Attorney Mr. Schmiege could challenge the arresting officer's account of the incident. Michael P. Schmiege also could challenge the results of a Breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test if you did submit to one. As previously mentioned, these tests have been shown to be unreliable in many cases, and several bases exist for challenging their results. Due process arguments might also apply depending upon the conditions of your testing and arrest.
If you are convicted for a DUI offense, Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Michael Schmiege might apply for court supervision depending upon the facts of your case. First-time offenders are eligible for supervision and can obtain dismissal of their case after successful completion of a program involving alcohol treatment, hearing a victim impact panel, and other requirements of the court. The arrest will remain on your record, but will not be listed as a "conviction." This lack of a conviction record could be advantageous to you when applying for jobs or housing in the future, and in the event of a subsequent arrest.
In addition, if you are found not guilty after trial and if you have no previous arrests on your record, Illinois DWI Defense Attorney Michael Schmiege could apply for expungement of your record to remove the DUI arrest from your criminal history.
Experienced Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Michael P. Schmiege offers you a free initial case evaluation/legal consultation to discuss the facts of your case and answer questions about available defenses. Contact aggressive and dedicated Illinois DWI Defense Attorney Michael Schmiege today for your free consultation.
NOT GUILTY – Possession of a Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Deliver
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol – NOT GUILTY
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