What is “implied consent” in Illinois?

Every driver should understand how the state’s implied consent law works. In other words, who is giving consent and what is the consent about? The law is an important tool for enforcing the state’s DUI laws, and violating the law can lead to the loss of driving privileges for at least a year.

The implied consent statute says that anyone who “is in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle on a public highway is implicitly deemed to have consented to submitting to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the percentage of alcohol in the person’s blood stream. A concentration in excess of 0.08% is proof of intoxication. A police officer may demand that a driver submit to such a test if the officer has “probable cause” to believe that the person was under the influence of alcohol, a drug or drugs or other intoxicating compound.

An implied consent test can take several forms. The officer can require the driver to breathe into a device that determines blood alcohol concentration from a person’s breath. The officer can also ask the driver to provide a blood or urine sample. The choice of test method is left to the officer’s discretion. A driver may refuse to take a breathalyzer test or provide blood or urine samples, but the consequences of the refusal may be harsh. The driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year. The license revocation is an administrative proceeding and has nothing to do with any criminal charges relating to the driver’s state of intoxication while operating a motor vehicle.

Anyone who has submitted to an implied consent or has refused such a test may wish to consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for advice on the legal consequences of driving while intoxicated and the administrative steps required to reinstate a suspended driver’s license. An experienced attorney can provide an evaluation of the law and evidence that will affect the outcome of the case.