Feb 15


Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is one of the most common criminal offenses in Illinois. Despite the risk of property damage, personal injury, and even death, DUI accidents and arrests still occur regularly throughout Illinois. Although each DUI case is completely unique, there is commonly a three-step timeline for most DUI arrests in Illinois.

Traffic Stop

The first step in a DUI arrest is a traffic stop. In most DUI cases, the police officer observes erratic or unsafe driving and stops the driver to investigate. That being said, an officer may stop a driver for any traffic violation.

After executing a traffic stop, the police officer will ask the driver for:

  • Driver’s license or permit;
  • Vehicle registration paperwork; and
  • Proof of automotive insurance.

While interacting with the driver, the police officer will also look for signs of intoxication, including but not limited to bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and slurred speech. If there is not reasonable suspicion of impaired driving, then the officer will release the driver.

Field Sobriety Testng

If there is a reasonable suspicion of impaired driving, then the police officer will ask the driver to undergo field sobriety tests. Illinois police officers employ three standardized field sobriety tests for intoxicated drivers:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The driver must use his or her eyes to track a visual cue without moving the head or body;
  • Walk and Turn: The driver must walk in a straight line, execute a turn, and walk in a straight line; and
  • One-Legged Stand: The driver must lift one foot in the air and stand on one leg for several seconds.

The police officer will observe the driver’s performance in the field sobriety tests and take detailed notes. The officer must determine that there is probable cause to take the driver into custody.

Arrest and Chemical Testing

If the driver fails the field sobriety tests, then the police officer has probable cause to make a DUI arrest. The officer will take the driver into custody and down to the police station for booking.

At that point, the driver will be asked to submit to chemical testing to determine his or her exact level of impairment. If the driver agrees, then the police will test the driver’s breath or blood for alcohol and drugs. Specifically, DUI charges are applicable when a driver registers any of the following test results:

  • Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more;
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of five nanograms or more; or
  • Any trace of illegal drugs or controlled substances other than cannabis.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.

(image courtesy of Matt Popovich)