We're all familiar with implied consent laws by now, right? These laws state that a driver, when obtaining a license in Illinois (or an any other state), consents in advance to submit to a test of his or her blood alcohol content when requested to do so, assuming the officer has a reasonable suspicion of intoxication.
However, even with that advanced implied consent, a driver can still refuse to voluntarily submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. The penalty for that refusal is a license suspension and a presumption that he knew he was guilty of DUI (which is often not enough to convict). The law regarding forced blood draws is still murky, but will hopefully be cleared up by the Supreme Court. Until then, the closest clearly legal option for law enforcement is a "no refusal" operation.
These operations, held during peak drunk driving times, and ensure that no drunk driver slips through the cracks. During the operation, prosecutors and judges are kept on call. If a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, the prosecutor seeks a warrant from the judge for a forced blood draw or catheterization (ouch).
Is it worth the trouble? That's definitely something reasonable minds could disagree on. The recent Kane County operation, which took place near Halloween, resulted in four arrests, according to the Chicago Tribune. Three of the drivers submitted to BAC tests voluntarily. One initially refused, but relented when warned that a warrant could be obtained.
The real value, much like the value of checkpoints, is in deterrence. Drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, are idiots. They first think "I won't get caught." Then, when they are pulled over, they think, "So my license will be suspended ... big deal." They have a point there.
A license suspension is far more minor than a DUI conviction. And while driving on a suspended license is also a crime, most of these drivers won't be caught unless they violate another law during the suspension, such as getting another DUI or running a red light. After all, cops do need reasonable suspicion of a crime to pull a suspect over.
These "no refusal" operations add an extra layer of deterrence. A drunk driver now faces an even greater likelihood of being convicted of a DUI if he chooses to drive during one of these operations. Hopefully, the deterrent effect will keep even more impaired drivers off of the road.
The next planned operation in Kane County is for the day before Thanksgiving. Officers are hoping that no one is arrested, as this would mean that drivers have chosen to be responsible. Somehow, we doubt it.
- Consult a Chicago DUI Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Is Refusing a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test Ever a Good Idea? (FindLaw's Chicago DUI Blog)
- Implied Consent: Should You Choose Blood or Breath? (FindLaw's Chicago DUI Blog)
- The Suspension (FindLaw's Chicago DUI Blog)