MCHENRY COUNTY DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE DEFENSE ATTORNEY
DUI arrests are constatnly increasing and the penalities are always getting more severe. With the assistance of a local attorney familiar with handling these sort of charges, you can rest assured that the best defense possible will be presented.
The statute stating the offense of driving under the influence can be found at 720 ILCS 5/11-501. There are many statutes under this broad heading that a defense attorney finds extremely useful in getting the charges dismissed or reduced. Statutes governing chemical tests (720 ILCS 5/11-501.2) is particularly important and discussed below. There are also administrative orders that direct law enforcement on the proper procedures and protocols for conducting investigations. It is important to retain an attorney familiar with each of these sources of law and who can attack a DUI case from multiple angles.
Generally speaking, a DUI arrest can be split into a few different categories. These include:
- The initial driving
- Field sobriety tests
- Chemical tests
When the officer pulls a driver under suspicion of DUI, they pay particular attention to the manner in which the vehicle is stopped. Did the vehicle slam on the brakes or gradually reduce speed? Were the tires run up on the curb or did the driver stop in the middle of the road? It is important to know that the police officer will often begin gathering evidence before initial contact with the driver is even made.
Once the police officer approaches the vehicle, additional information is instantly gathered. Every defense attorney who has handled as many DUI cases as Evan E. Randall knows that the three things contained in every police report are (1) blood shot, red eyes, (2) slurred speach and (3) the odor of alcohol. The police officer will also note how the driver is dressed (wearing coat in summer or shorts in winter), how they respond to requests for identification (like the fumbling of a drivers license or providing a credit card instead), and the responses to questions.
All of these things can be used to establish, through circumstantial evidence, that the driver was intoxicated. For this reason, the less interaction with law enforcement, the less circumstantial evidence they can collect against the driver.
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS
In order to obtain probable cause to make an arrest for DUI, the police officer will ask the driver to participate in field sobriety tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has standardized the tests that can be used by police departments. These tests wach have very precise procedures that must be followed perfectly in order to be used by the police officer.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
This is often the first test that is used and it involves the driver following an object, generally a small light or pen, with their eyes. While the results of the test cannot be used to determine whether the driver is intoxicated over the legal limit, it can be used to determine whether the driver has consumed alcohol recently. Defense attorneys must make it known to a jury that the results cannot be used to determine the amount of alcohol, only consumption.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test begins with the officer reading certain instructions. Often, these are pre-printed on an index card and must be read, in it's entirety, and without pause. The officer than begins the test and the procedure is extremely detailed and must be followed exactly in order to be reliable. If the instructions are improperly given or the test not conducted in the proper way, then your defense attorney can have the entire test, and results thereof, thrown out.
One Legged Stand
An old classic that has a special trick. DUI defense attorneys, as well as the police officer giving the test, know the secret to performing this test. A seasoned attorney will make this little trick known to the jury and this often leads to the officer coming across as sneaky or untrustworthy. For this reason the one legged stand test is not as common as it used to be, but many inexperienced police officers are regularly caught in the trap; leading to charges being dismissed. If the officer comes across as dishonest or uncredible, then very few juries will convict.
Walk and Turn
Typically, this is the last field sobriety test and it involves the officer reading instructions, providing a demonstration, and then assessing the driver's performance. As with the instructions for the One Legged Stand test, these instructions must be clear and precise. The demonstration must be entire and accurate. Failure of the police officer to complete either of these often results in the test, and results, being suppressed and thrown out of evidence.
There are also certain conditions under which the test is to be performed. Wet pavement or a sloped surface will not provide accurate results and a DUI defense attorney will be able to argue that the test should be suppressed from evidence.
Field Sobriety Tests must be completed in accordance with the standards established and governing the tests. Defense attorneys must have studied the NHTSA field manuals and know the proper administration so that they can recognize when they are improperly conducted. This knowledge only comes with extensive training and experience. With Evan E. Randall, that is precisely what you can expect.
Chemical testing is often the most important piece of evidence the police can obtain. If chemical testing was conducted, then a defense attoreny is going to have find a way to get that evidence suppressed. The two most common chemical testing includes breathalyzers and blood draws and the general rules regarding both can be found at 720 ILCS 5/11-201.2. Illinois Administrative Code, Chapter II, Section, 1286, provides the rules, regulations and standards that a defense attorney utilizes to get chemical tests suppressed on "technicalities".
Breathalyzer Chemical Testing
According to statute and code, officers must be certified to conduct chemical testing and that certification must be renewed when expired. Similarly, the equipment must also be calibrated regularly to ensure that the results are accurate. If either qualification is expired or missing, the results of the test will be suppressed.
Generally speaking, there are two separate tests that drivers may be asked to take. The first is given on the side of the road and is known as Portable Breath Test (PBT). While these results cannot be brought up in court, they can be used to give the officer instant probable cause to make a DUI arrest. The second breath test is given at the police station and these are the results that can be introduced in court. A driver would be well advised to deny participating in either test.
In McHenry County, there has been a sharp increase in the amount of DUI cases based on forced blood draws. In certain instances, like when there's an accident with personal injury and hospitalization, where a warrant is not needed to obtain blood samples. However, police officers can now petition a judge for a blood warrant from the side of the road. This is a relatively new development in Illinois law and many police agencies still struggle with properly following the required process. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to point out improper procedures and get the results thrown out for being inaccurate.
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