Portion of Illinois’ implied consent law ruled unconstitutional

Illinois, like most other states, has a statute which requires drivers accused of drunk driving to consent to one of several blood alcohol content tests or face the loss of their drivers’ license. The law is known as the implied consent law because all licensed drivers in the state are deemed to have impliedly given their consent to such tests by virtue of driving on state highways. If a driver refuses to give consent to either a breathalyzer, blood or urine test, they face an automatic suspension of their driver’s license, but the DUI case goes forward without the results of blood, breath or urine tests.

In a recent case, the Illinois Court of Appeals considered the question of whether police can compel a drunk driving suspect to take a blood or urine test without first obtaining a search warrant. The case involved a driver who was suspected of killing a pedestrian and seriously injuring her daughter while driving under the influence. After the collision, police took the suspect to a nearby hospital and demanded that he provide blood and urine samples, relying on a statute that permits such warrantless tests if the officer has “probable cause” to believe that the driver was intoxicated.

The driver in this case refused, and he was ultimately coerced by hospital staff into providing a blood and a urine sample. The blood test was negative for the presence of alcohol, but the urine sample tested positive for cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine metabolite. The driver was convicted of first degree murder and two other crimes and was sentenced to life in prison.

The driver appealed the verdict of guilty on the murder charge on the ground that a portion of the implied consent statute was unconstitutional because it permitted police to take nonconsensual blood and urine samples without first obtaining a search warrant. After considering two United States Supreme Court decisions, the court held the Illinois statute permitting warrantless collection of blood, alcohol or urine samples to be unconstitutional. The guilty verdict was reversed and the case was sent back to the lower court for a new trial.

This case demonstrates the benefit of retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. An experienced defense lawyer can sort through the evidence and conflicting legal theories in the case and find the rules that provide a complete DUI defense.

Source: illinoiscourts.gov, “People v. Eubanks,” accessed on Jan. 7, 2018